What is a Practice Manager in Healthcare?
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- Practice managers supervise operations at doctor's offices, clinics, and hospitals.
- They often have a bachelor's degree in healthcare administration, as well as certifications.
- Healthcare management positions pay about six figures on average.
- Demand for healthcare managers is projected to far exceed other occupations.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the healthcare sector accounts for 18.3% of the gross domestic product. It's a complex and vast industry, employing clinicians and administrators. And behind the scenes at every healthcare facility, a practice manager runs the show.
In a clinical practice, the practice manager —or a faculty practice administrator —handles the administrative, financial, and operational functions.
So what exactly is healthcare management? Explore more about how to become a manager in healthcare, what they do on the job, and their earning potential.
What Is Practice Management?
Practice managers provide the administrative leadership needed to run a healthcare facility. In this role, healthcare managers handle all daily operations.
As a practice manager, you'll ensure efficient and accurate physician billing, and you'll also create budgets. At the front desk, you'll supervise medical billing to avoid copay and deductible inaccuracies.
To help a facility meet its goals, healthcare managers enhance patient experiences and outcomes. They also provide staff engagement and support for both clinical and nonclinical workers.
Practice managers routinely have hard discussions with other administrators, regulatory agencies, insurance carriers, medical and administrative staff, and stakeholders. This means you'll need strong interpersonal skills for the job.
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What Does a Practice Manager Do?
Although their responsibilities depend on the size of the medical practice where they work, practice managers implement the policies and procedures that keep the medical office running smoothly.
They are often responsible for staffing and scheduling, ensuring compliance with regulations, and managing the revenue cycle. Other daily tasks involve overseeing the security procedures that guard the private information of the business and its patients.
Practice managers also recommend ways to lower overheads, improve efficiency, and supervise nonclinical staff like receptionists, secretaries, and medical billers and coders. In smaller offices, they may need to fill in when the office is short staffed.
As is often the case with other managerial positions, practice managers may need to step in and mediate issues with office personnel. They may also need to defuse a customer service problem or handle a dispute with an insurance company.
How Do You Become a Practice Manager in Healthcare?
At every healthcare facility, a good practice manager exercises a high degree of discretion, judgment, and skill to keep operations running. These are often skills learned from years of healthcare management experience and education. Credentials and educational requirements vary by employer, but generally, you need an undergraduate degree to get started.
You need at least a bachelor's degree to become a healthcare manager. A bachelor's in healthcare administration or a nursing degree plus healthcare administration experience can prepare you for healthcare management positions. Some managers in healthcare hold graduate degrees in administration or nursing.
You can pursue many certifications to show your qualifications, including:
- Certified physician practice manager credential
- Certified medical manager credential
- Certified medical practice executive credential
First and foremost, practice managers need to be good managers. You must be able to communicate clearly with patients, office employees, insurance company representatives, and medical staff. It's important that you can manage employees with different personalities and backgrounds effectively.
Attention to detail is also vital — as is true of most healthcare careers. In fact, the most successful practice managers have a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of medical administration. This enables them to identify and tackle the unique issues healthcare offices face.
How Much Does a Practice Manager Make?
Median Annual Salary for Healthcare Managers (May 2021)
Job Outlook (2021-2031)
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that healthcare managers earned a median annual salary of $101,340 in May 2021. But you can earn more depending on the employer. Hospitals paid healthcare managers a median annual salary of $119,450, and government agencies paid $117,000.
Seniority also influences pay, with the top 10% of healthcare managers earning more than $205,620 in 2021.
The BLS projects medical and health services manager jobs will grow much faster than the national average of 5% — by a whopping 28% — from 2021-2031.
The aging baby-boomer population and the added pressures they may place on doctors and health facilities may fuel the high demand for health services managers. And technology-savvy healthcare managers are projected to be in particularly high demand.