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Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration

March 15, 2021  |  Category: Healthcare Administration

Hospital administrators meet

Healthcare leaders work to ensure their organizations can provide cost-effective, high-quality patient care. They also empower their employees to embrace ever-changing patient demographics, technological advancements, and other changes. Individuals who are interested in taking on such a key role must often decide between two paths: healthcare management vs. healthcare administration. Although they are similar in some ways, these leadership roles also have distinct differences.

Prospective students who are exploring healthcare management or healthcare administration should fully understand the two roles as well as the educational and experience requirements for each.

Definitions of Healthcare Management and Healthcare Administration

The following job descriptions can help define the roles of healthcare managers and healthcare administrators.

What Is Healthcare Management?

Healthcare management focuses primarily on large-scale direction at a hospital or medical organization. Healthcare managers are responsible for overseeing the business operations of their organization and monitoring its various departments. They create and direct budgets, managing all accounting needs and financial operations. Responsibility for the legal aspects of a medical facility — including implementation of policies and procedures—is another aspect of a healthcare manager’s role. In different medical facilities, healthcare managers may work as risk management directors or medical accounts receivable managers.

What Is Healthcare Administration?

Healthcare administration, on the other hand, focuses on the clinical operations of individual departments or units within a healthcare organization. Healthcare administrators are responsible for supervising the staff in their departments and ensuring patients receive quality care. They must have an understanding of clinical practices to ensure their area has the proper policies, staffing, equipment, and other resources to provide patients with the care they need. Managing health informatics, such as electronic health records, is another essential aspect of the job.

Roles and Responsibilities of Healthcare Managers and Healthcare Administrators

Healthcare managers and administrators play essential roles in their medical organizations and, in fact, rely on one another for success. Professionals in both occupations primarily work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, nursing homes, residential care facilities, or outpatient care centers. They generally work full time, often evenings or weekends, to ensure their facilities or departments are running at optimal levels.

Perhaps the most essential similarity between healthcare management and healthcare administration careers is that both require leadership competencies. Healthcare managers and administrators need to be able to lead and guide teams toward common goals, and inspire doctors, nurses, and staff members to provide the highest level of patient care.

In addition to leadership skills, professionals in both fields should possess strong verbal and written communication, organizational, decision-making, and problem-solving skills.

Responsibilities of a healthcare manager can include the following.

  • Establishing short- and long-term goals for an organization and the plans to achieve them
  • Managing the overall organizational budget
  • Overseeing business functions such as billing, human resources, and facility maintenance
  • Guiding an organization’s marketing efforts
  • Meeting with investors or boards as well as potential donors

Healthcare administrators generally assume the following responsibilities.

  • Managing a departmental budget
  • Hiring and training nurses and other medical personnel
  • Creating work schedules
  • Ensuring proper handling of patient records
  • Enforcing departmental policies
  • Maintaining proper medical supplies and equipment

Healthcare Management and Healthcare Administration Career Outlook, Salary, and Education

With closely related roles that are integral to the success of the industry, healthcare management and healthcare administration professions share a strong career outlook and salary expectations. Individuals who are interested in these fields, however, may choose to pursue different educational paths.

Career Outlook and Salary

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes both managers and administrators in the same category of medical and health services managers. Employment of those positions is projected to grow by 32% between 2019 and 2029, as the population ages and the demand for medical services rises. This job growth is much faster than the average for all occupations.

The BLS estimates an annual median salary for medical and health services managers of $100,980, with the lowest 10% earning about $58,820 and the highest 10% earning approximately $189,000. Salaries vary across facility type and geographic region as well as a candidate’s educational level and experience.


Healthcare management is a more business-oriented career. Individuals who are looking at this career track commonly earn a bachelor’s degree in a health- or business-related field. Subsequently, they often earn an advanced business degree, such as an MBA or a dual master’s degree in business and healthcare administration.

Healthcare administration focuses more on the clinical aspects of a medical department or unit. As such, prospective healthcare administrators often pursue a more healthcare-focused education, including a BS in healthcare administration. Professionals who are looking to expand their career opportunities and compete for top healthcare administration positions may also choose to earn a graduate degree in healthcare administration.

Pursue a Career in Healthcare Leadership

The healthcare industry is growing and transforming at a rapid pace. Leaders are needed at every level to ensure the highest quality care, and to shape environments that are progressively patient-centric and nurture healthcare workers.

Individuals who are interested in leadership roles, whether as a healthcare manager or healthcare administrator, should consider exploring the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration (BSHA) degree at AdventHealth University Online.

Flexible and conveniently accessible, this online program includes courses in health management, health information systems, analytics, accounting and finance, and human resources administration.

Learn how you can develop the skills to excel in healthcare leadership.

The Balance Careers, “Healthcare and Medical Job Titles and Descriptions”
Betterteam, “Healthcare Administrator Job Description”
Houston Chronicle, “Comparison of Health Care Management Vs. Health Care Administration”
Houston Chronicle, “How to Be a Successful Hospital Manager”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers