Financial management in healthcare can be a daunting task. In addition to understanding the complexities of healthcare logistics, healthcare administrators must also stay up-to-date on new laws, procedures and guidelines to ensure the smooth operation of their healthcare institutions. On top of that is the political know-how necessary to guide often competing interests toward the common goal of improved healthcare for all. Fortunately, some online MBA programs now focus on financial management in healthcare, and healthcare organizations are looking to these professionals to enact sweeping changes in healthcare at all levels.
“Financial management” is a broad category, and financial management in healthcare occurs at many levels throughout our healthcare systems. At the micro-level, financial management is concerned with individual patients and their healthcare options. Administrators in healthcare organizations can help with a patient’s individual care, creating a financial roadmap for often expensive and confusing treatments. Administrators may work one-on-one with patients and their insurance companies to leverage a number of hospitals’ resources for the best prognosis. Beyond just faceless number-pushers, these professionals make navigating the confusing world of healthcare easier for people who are in their most vulnerable state.
At the mid-level, financial management in healthcare could be “handling routine financial operations, such as negotiating contracts, making cash available for expenses such as payroll, and maintaining a cash cushion for unexpected costs,” according to Sarah Brumley of the Houston Chronicle. This level of management is concerned with the day-to-day operation of a particular healthcare organization. In a hospital, for example, financial management could mean ordering surgical instruments or costly diagnostic machines, or determining what staffing loads the hospital can afford for different times of the year.
At the macro-level, financial management may involve a number of healthcare organizations working in conjunction. As an example, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) is an organization concerned with this level of financial management. They “developed a Community-Based Health Insurance (CBHI) Financial Modeling Tool” that was used in Rwanda’s Ministry of Health. The tool helps “to estimate premium income, administrative costs, and payments to health providers for services.”
Financial management in healthcare is a varied practice. Some professionals work with individual patients, while others focus on systems to improve healthcare and quality of life. Many healthcare professionals are choosing an online MBA program to hone their financial management skills. These types of programs are often flexible with regard to scheduling; thus, they are the perfect fit for working professionals. Additionally, these working professionals see an immediate return on their investment, as they can apply the concepts they learn in class one day in the workplace the next.