You might be considering moving to a management role within your existing healthcare career. Perhaps you are contemplating switching industries and moving into a healthcare management career.
In this article, we explain why healthcare business can be considered quite different from other industries. We look at some hard and soft leadership skills you require to really become an effective manager in a healthcare scenario. Let’s get into it!
A simple definition of healthcare management
Every facility you avail from a healthcare institution such as surgery offices, hospitals, aged care centres and the like all require various resources and management.
Healthcare management roles are exactly how it sounds; it is the ongoing overall leadership of a healthcare facility, such as a clinic or hospital. A healthcare leader is in charge of ensuring a healthcare facility is running as it should in terms of staffing levels, patient care, budget and financial targets, the organisation’s goals or business and more.
A person who works in healthcare leadership will oversee the daily operations of the centre. They also take care of all vital business areas and keep up with strategies to succeed further. This is why you need to have proper skills for your successful healthcare management career.
Why is healthcare management different from other roles?
Currently, the continuous evolution of medical legislation, software and medical technology improvements and constant change in surrounding healthcare providers means talented healthcare managers are highly sought after.
The behaviour of the clinic or hospital customer base— patients, differs significantly in the healthcare sector compared to other fields in business. Patients have different expectations and understanding of how medical and healthcare providers and systems work. They are not just searching for the best doctor like they would as if searching for the best restaurant in their area.
These differences in expectations have established different sets of challenges and make it difficult for employees in this field to excel in healthcare management careers.
As the relationship between patients and institutions are so different, it has created a completely different environment in terms of management and execution of goals and strategies for the business.
Must have skills for a successful career in healthcare management
The following leadership skills are not exhaustive; there are obviously plenty more areas to learn and develop skills in the healthcare management career. However these are some places to start from. I also encourage you to take the time to reach out and speak to a number of healthcare managers. This will help you get your own understanding of the required skills and career expectations.
Ability to manage the current operations effectively
Of all the jobs a healthcare manager has to do, this is on the top of the list. The more efficiently a manager can get on with the current operations, the better manager they will become.
In your healthcare management career, you will be required to keep track of a wide variety of resources. These include equipment, employee salaries, specific legislation and requirements such as aged care restrictions, facilities and more. If you are wondering how to get on with this process, the best way to do it is by talking to healthcare staff.
Leadership requires the ability to look at things from multiple perspectives and reflect on what is working, what is not, and to identify opportunities for improvement.
You will gain all the essential knowledge if you are able to spend more time talking to healthcare staff. Knowledge gathered from them will make it easier to decide where more resources are needed and will bring efficiency in the process of running those institutions.
In a recent article for the Asia Pacific Journal of Health Management, DS Briggs AM, Editor in Chief states “The essential difference between healthcare organisations and other commercially orientated organisations is context and the differences and tensions between the different logics of each of the professions and that of managers. These differences are significant and that is perhaps why most health management programs are context-specific and are located at the tertiary level, in faculties of health and medicine, however, described.”
Staff management skills
We have already talked about managing the current operations of the institution and the number of processes involved in doing it. Staff management is one of the most crucial elements in your healthcare management career. This is the backbone of your establishment’s operations.
In healthcare management, you are often responsible for areas, such as nurse rostering. We all know inefficient rostering and time management of key staff may cause delays and issues with patients down the road.
Typical solutions such as cutting down on resources in order to enhance revenue will not work here. To keep the doctors doing their jobs in the best possible way, resources are needed on the back end and cannot afford to be removed. Managing all those staff and resources is crucial to ensuring better healthcare facilities and services for the patients.
Outstanding soft skills
Apart from having a range of specific technical skills, you need to have transferable skills for a successful healthcare management career. In order to be a great leader, a set of specific soft skills are also required.
Here is a list of six elements that compose the soft skills of a person in a healthcare leadership career.
Previous studies conclude a significant percentage of errors occurring in medical institutions are caused due to poor teamwork. These errors are often noted to be from those engaged at the patient end.
Taking a closer look at such situations, you will realise administrative mistakes are significantly related to poor patient outcomes.
Any leader needs to have a team. Teamwork is the basis of any successful business and a leader should manage the behaviour of the team. This maintains productivity and respect for the individual abilities of employees. Ensuring team cohesion is an important responsibility.
The leader will strive to make sure the individual attributes of the team are coordinated to produce the best output. Leaders who develop team-building exercises as part of their strategies are able to implement teamwork policies for a successful team.
Communication is always of top priority no matter which job you are involved in or what stage of your healthcare management career you are in. Whether it be managing the team, understanding your staff, meeting with clients, taking feedback from patients; all of these will be require communication.
Communication has a direct impact on the growth of an organisation. Communication also ensures effective patient safety. Effective communication helps the team identify their goals, and communicate the tasks, activities, and work they will undertake. It improves productivity and creates a smooth flow of work.
Communication is so essential in healthcare and is one of the most important things in any organisation. Communication is the means to solve problems. When communication fails, productivity falls, and turnover increases.
Communication is the best way to get answers. People with great communication skills also enjoy work more and perform better.
See yourself in your team members’ shoes, and understand their challenges and goals. You will be a lot more effective and efficient. Being a leader is not about control, rather it is about collaboration.
This includes having and adopting a long term vision of how to serve your team members, who in turn are serving your patients.
Successful healthcare leaders are adaptable and can quickly change direction when required, taking advantage of new opportunities and ideas. They also understand the need to take risks and possess the ability to understand where the most success lies and how to avoid pitfalls.
Knowing how to adapt and adapt well will keep you ahead in your healthcare management career. If you find a new system or method difficult to use, take time to study it.
Leadership is all about being selfless. Yes, business is about making money. However, at the end of the day, it is also about helping people in need.
Helping people means making them happy, bringing smiles to their faces, and allowing them to feel a sense of belonging. At the end of the day, being able to bring people with you, and making them all smile, can make or break your career.
This is one of the biggest challenges leaders and managers face today. Multi-tasking is all about being proactive and breaking down the things you need and working on them in small chunks to make them manageable.
Keep in mind a healthcare management career is both challenging yet very rewarding.
What are your first thoughts when you walk into a room with your employees? How are you reacting to what is going on around you? How do you react and keep your emotions in check so you can help your employees or your team members feel more at ease, have more fun, and come up with the best ideas?
Doing anything is not difficult as long as you possess the right skills. Hopefully, the above guide contains all the essential skills to make your career shine.