Healthcare is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. As the number of jobs in the industry rise, so does the need for health service managers. Economists predict that job growth for health service managers will be higher than the average of any other career by 2020.
Health service managers are typically responsible for planning, coordinating and directing the delivery of quality service to patients in hospitals, clinics and any other health care related organizations.
This is the definition of healthcare service managers as proposed by a number of universities, but it’s not as simple as it sounds. At a glance, it might seem that it’s no different than managing any other thing marketing department, sales department, various projects, etc. All of these require planning, direction and coordination, but there are a number of differences that are important to know.
Your team is unlike any other
A healthcare service manager’s team consists of doctors and nurses, and that radically turns things around. You can’t approach this with the same attitude as any other project. Doctors have the most stressful and important job there is saving lives, every day.
Each mistake in a hospital can cost a lot more than just time and budget: you might be able to fix a faulty marketing campaign when you find the problem, but fixing a health related problem that came up because a nurse administered the wrong drug to a patient in critical condition will be much harder.
You could argue that it’s the nurse’s fault, but that’s not completely true.
Oftentimes, there is just so much work to do and so many patients to take care off, that simple mistakes like that are bound to happen: except that they shouldn’t and it’s your job to make sure they don’t.
Healthcare is more delicate
Your clients aren’t the same as in other spheres of management either. These people have a lot more on the line than their business, marketing or project their wellbeing and life. Now in some cases, there is sadly nothing that can be done to cure a person,
Surely, doctors can take care of these matters themselves, but as the manager is one of your responsibilities to interact with patients and difficult cases like that should be taken seriously. Dealing with delicate matters can be more stressful and put more responsibility on your shoulders. It comes with the territory.
Every mistake can cost you big time
As in any other industry, keeping everything updated, managing information flow, patient cards and the activities of your team is a key part of health services management. Obviously, all of that involves a ton of paperwork, but the difference is that every mistake can cost you a lot more.
A patient receiving wrong treatment at your clinic can result in a bigger blow to your clinic’s reputation than a mishandled project. Trusting a company that failed a project isn’t that bad accidents and failures happen to everybody but trusting a clinic that mishandled a health related issue isn’t something that most people will accept lightly.
You have more personnel
An average project manager’s team is composed of 15 people, which is a lot if you think about it, but still manageable. In clinics though, the average number of personnel can go up to 50, sometimes even 100 team members, since they also include janitors, drivers, etc.
The perfection of the healthcare facility is important in every aspect be it cleanliness, the time needed for a driver to make it to the hospital or the actual service. In comparison, in a marketing department you can have as much mess and chaos around you as you like, as long as you get the job done.
The point is that eight hours a day isn’t close to enough for handling all the daily activities of a clinic. That’s why healthcare service managers dedicate more time to their job and often leave the place last to try and handle everything properly.
There is more to it than just management
A project manager is responsible for the team’s activities, meeting project deadlines and delivering a quality product on time, but there is nothing more to it.
In the case of healthcare service managers, deep knowledge and insight in other spheres is required as well, like a degree in business and healthcare education, to be able to handle the financial side of things. In large clinics, there are other people responsible for finances, but due to the high cost of keeping additional personnel, small/medium clinics have the same person do it all.
This not only means that you will have even more work to do in spheres unrelated to management, but also that you have to actually possess the necessary financial and accounting skills to do that.
Health services management seems very similar to other business related management jobs to the untrained eye, but it’s more like three jobs in one. There is more responsibility, more dedication and more work involved, but the compensation, both monetary and job satisfaction, is higher as well. Keep these points in mind when considering a health service manager’s job -)