Between public legislation and technological development, the healthcare industry has experienced many changes over the last few years. Looking at the future of healthcare administration might help industry professionals and current students understand how their roles will evolve in a growth-oriented environment.
The Affordable Care Act Extends Medical Coverage to Millions
In 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), former President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, was enacted. According to data from the U.S. Department Health and Human Services, the act has provided access to medical insurance coverage for 31 million people. While doctors, nurses and other providers will feel the strain of larger patient rosters, this increase also means that future healthcare administrators will have to cope with more paperwork than before.
The increase means that hospitals and other facilities will need to increase their hiring needs for executive-level administrators. Healthcare centers will also have to pay careful attention to medical and financial records to reduce the potential for human error. In addition to the ACA, the constant influx of healthcare regulatory changes will require Master of Health Administration (MHA) graduates to stay current with legal requirements as they evolve.
Job Opportunities Will Remain Plentiful
With the combined healthcare law and population growth, healthcare administrators can anticipate strong job potential in the future. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for healthcare executives, administrators and managers will grow at a projected rate of 32% between 2020 and 2030. This is substantially higher than the 8% growth rate that the BLS projects for the labor market as a whole.
Based on BLS projections, U.S. employers will add more than 139,000 new jobs to the healthcare administration field through 2030. With a median annual salary of $104,280 for these professionals as of 2020, this career path may present an attractive option for students.
Professionals Must Develop Well-Rounded Skills
While job opportunities will continue to grow, healthcare administrators will need more well-rounded skills to succeed in this field. Considering success can equate to a facility improving their efficiency and their ability to provide the best care possible, honing these skills to their highest level if critical. Some of the fundamental skills that Executive MHA (EMHA) graduates should possess are:
- Leadership Skills: Hospital administrators must set clear goals and motivate and encourage others to embrace strategies that can achieve them. This can include adapting to new tech or regulatory changes.
- Communication Skills: Given the delicate nature of healthcare, it is crucial that information pertaining to care delivery is communicated clearly and unambiguously to minimize misunderstandings or misinterpretation.
- Tech Skills: Hospital administrators must stay abreast of tech-driven advances and incorporate new technologies into care delivery.
- Analytical Skills: Hospital administrators must be able to assess a facility’s operational processes for efficiency and optimal care delivery and to ensure regulatory compliance as laws and policies change.
These skills can help administrators guide healthcare facilities with confidence and earn the trust of their employees. A weak leader in the role can have a ripple effect on an entire organization. Trust can decline among all faculty members, and sometimes it may make sense to remove a long-tenured leader in favor of someone who possesses the necessary qualities to nurture a team.
The Impact of COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic caused significant stress to the healthcare delivery system. For administrators, the pandemic’s effects have exacerbated existing challenges and created new ones.
Hospital staffing, for instance, has been an ongoing challenge that has evolved into a significant problem during the pandemic. The industry was already struggling with a nursing and physician shortage, particularly in rural areas. The trauma and exhaustion that waves of COVID-19 cases have caused have further highlighted the seriousness of the issue, making it all the more urgent for hospital administrators to find creative solutions to mitigate the effects of these shortages and keep patient care at a high level.
Limited resources to sufficiently handle the pandemic have also been a grave concern for hospital administrators. This is a multilayered issue impacting numerous levels of healthcare, from making it difficult to secure adequate equipment to straining patient capacity.
Additionally, the surge of COVID-19 patients in healthcare facilities kept other patients from seeking treatment. This became a multilayered issue; in addition to patients not receiving the care they needed, facilities experienced substantial dips in revenue. Because of this, hospital administrators had to come up with creative solutions to mitigate the effects of reduced revenue.
Many of the issues that COVID-19 has generated or heightened are expected to remain after it subsides. It will be up to hospital administrators to guide facilities to provide optimal, efficient care delivery in a post-pandemic world.
EHR Interoperability Will Dominate Conversations
Despite the need for MHAs with the requisite leadership skills, the healthcare industry will also need professionals who understand electronic health records (EHRs). These professionals must also strive toward maintaining an EHR system that can effectively build and maintain a comprehensive patient record in order for a patient to get the best care possible.
Since many patients visit more than one physician, healthcare administrators will have to promote open communication so that all medical professionals have access to the same data. Without this transparency, patients may not receive optimized care, potentially affecting outcomes.
Play a Role in the Next Generation of Healthcare
The future for healthcare administrators appears promising, and although challenges will inevitably, new opportunities can open up for graduates of USC’s EMHA program who seek a meaningful professional career. Learn how USC can help you embark on the next phase of your career.