It used to be that health care and business administration were strictly separated. However, the future of healthcare administration will deal much more heavily with technology connecting patients and medical teams, and administrators should have the ability to jump between different roles—such as database administrator, medical director, nurse coordinator, and information specialist. Moreover, many of these roles will require familiarity with database technology and health informatics since so much patient data will be stored via wearable devices or vitals-related record keeping applications.
Crossroads of Business & Health Care
As I stressed in 2016, business and health care are at a crossroads. This means, for example, that many business professionals with MBAs are choosing to go into healthcare administration, and they are coming armed with knowledge about cloud-based data and patient record digitization.
In addition, they are cross-training staff in personalized patient care and treatment, database systems, data analysis, and healthcare informatics. Healthcare administrators will also regularly deal with ethical dilemmas such as balancing fiscal responsibility, mitigating legal risks, negotiating patient privacy concerns, and managing influential relationships.
Emerging Medical Technologies
A major part of healthcare administration will now involve interacting with emerging medical technologies. This technology will inevitably include advances in medical data in the form of telemedicine, fast healthcare interoperability, and the internet of things for health care—for example, mobile apps, personalized medicine, and hospital asset management. Telemedicine alone will allow patient’s greater time flexibility, as well as increased access to doctors and medical specialists—who will be able to receive timely information which they may not have previously been able to access.
There’s also talk of driverless cars with in-car sensors that are able to monitor heart and respiration rates, as well as blood glucose levels and skin temperature. Ideally, healthcare providers would be able to connect to these live updates of patient vitals, triggering a call to the ER and a ride in to the hospital—all with the supervision of a healthcare administrator, in order to record live information about the incident as it happens. Ideally, the car itself will become a point of care, versus merely a care delivery method—comparable to an ambulance with EMTs onboard.
Ideally, skilled healthcare administrators will be virtually present every step of the way to ensure that medical teams are updated with all the necessary information related to patient history as it relates to the current situation. Medical administrators must possess multiple skills—including legal knowledge, business acumen, technical expertise, and problem-solving capabilities—in order to be able to handle stressful and complex situations. Moreover, they should be gifted communicators who can effectively speak, write, and problem solve under pressure.
Aging Patient Population
In addition to emerging technologies being introduced to medical settings, there is also an aging population to consider. According to the University of Cincinnati, “By 2050, the population of adults aged 65 and older is expected to be 83.7 million, which is nearly double the amount that was estimated for 2012 of 43.1 million.” Moreover, barriers to care access continues to be a problem, with accessibility and availability of care among the top reasons why patients can’t always get the care they need.
Despite all the advancements in technology, there’s still the problem of security to contend with—an especially thorny issue since so many of today’s patients fall into the baby boomer years or older, and privacy is an issue of great importance to older adults.
For example, Wired recently covered the current surge in availability of wearable medical technology—noting that “More than 36,000 healthcare-related devices in the U.S. alone are easily discoverable on Shodan, a sort of search engine for connected devices … Not all are necessarily vulnerable to attack, but since they are publicly exposed, attackers are more likely to target them.” This sort of publicity doesn’t do any favors for the wearable device and healthcare app market, which will need to appeal to aging consumers if it stands a chance of succeeding.
Future Healthcare Models
According to Becker’s Hospital Review, 45 healthcare executives agree about the likelihood of certain future hospital trends, including at-home patient monitoring via telemedicine applications, the rise of retail clinics, and reserving hospital space for truly acute care patients. Other predictions include designing healthcare processes with an enhanced patient experience in mind and increased collaboration between all stakeholders to improve patient health.
Since the demand for healthcare executives or administrators is projected to increase by 20 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s likely this conversation isn’t going away any time soon. As the population continues to increase, the demand for healthcare professionals of all types will also continue to grow. The intersection of technology and medicine—along with executive business roles—is likely to continue attracting professionals from a variety of industries who want to contribute to healthcare in a significant way.
The field of healthcare administration is a varied one with a lot to offer interested candidates. One thing is certain: technology will continue to change the future of healthcare. According to Mike Strazzella, a federal government healthcare attorney, there will likely be advances in data mining and record keeping, tailoring health plans to patient needs, moving to a fee-for-service system, electronic health records that talk to each other, and a rise in telehealth-related technology.
Because of these advancements in technology, fans of database administration, computer programming, and the intersections between human and information-based systems should feel encouraged to further pursue the executive healthcare field. Medical administration deals with hospital and healthcare clinics at a wide-reaching, operational level—so those interested in a meta-view of medical care might feel especially engaged.
If you’re interested in helping medical patients, but not at the nitty-gritty, blood-and-guts level, you may prefer the world of healthcare administration. Just know that you’ll be required to understand scenarios from both a bird’s-eye view and a microscopic level, since you’ll likely delve into healthcare data and informatics—as well as legal matters, ethical issues, and patient care conundrums—on an almost-daily basis. The one thing you won’t be required to do is don surgical gloves (perhaps just metaphysical ones).
Daphne Stanford writes poetry and nonfiction and believes in the power of art, education, and community radio to change the world. Since 2012, she’s hosted “The Poetry Show!” Every Sunday at 5 p.m., Mountain Time, on Radio Boise (KRBX 89.9/93.5 FM). Follow her on Twitter @TPS_on_KRBX.