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Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration: Is There a Difference?

A degree may open the door to a variety of opportunities and diverse career paths. The degree programs offered at CTU will not necessarily lead to the featured careers. This collection of articles is intended to help inform and guide you through the process of determining which level of degree and types of certifications align with your desired career path.

In everyday conversation, the terms “healthcare management” and “healthcare administration” are often used interchangeably, leading many people to believe that they are one and the same. For example, you might have seen or heard of job titles such as hospital administrator and medical practice manager. You might assume that these occupations involve similar types of management responsibilities, albeit in different work environments. If so, then you will be surprised to learn that a hospital administrator’s duties may align more closely with healthcare management, while a medical practice manager’s duties may align more closely with healthcare administration. Adding to the ambiguity is that degree programs in healthcare management and healthcare administration often cover similar content.

Confused at all? If so, you’re likely not alone. So, let’s explore the differences in healthcare management vs. healthcare administration in an effort to figure out what is—and isn’t—in a name.

What Is Healthcare Management?

Healthcare management is what is commonly known as the business side of healthcare of healthcare. A healthcare manager’s primary focus is to plan and implement medical and health services and initiatives that impact their organization as a whole. And even though they may be found working in doctor’s offices, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes, healthcare managers do not directly carry out patient care. For example, a hospital administrator or clinic director may be responsible for conducting employee training programs, developing facility-wide policies, directing financial operations, managing human resource activities, and preparing operational status reports, in addition to performing myriad other activities that contribute to the overall efficient functioning of the entire facility.1 Another example could be a health information manager or medical records manager—someone responsible for the maintenance, accuracy, and security of all patient records and data; staying up-to-date on the latest health informatics trends; and perhaps overseeing the work of medical records technicians.2

Healthcare Management Skills

Among the important “soft” healthcare management skills are strong interpersonal, leadership, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities.2 Healthcare managers may also need to be knowledgeable in the use of different types of programs, such as medical, compliance, accounting, and/or CRM software.1 Running reports using these different software programs and interpreting that data may be necessary to see the “big picture” and determine what actions need to be taken to improve the department or facility under their purview.

Healthcare Management Degree Program Options

A bachelor’s degree is normally required to pursue a healthcare management career path, although many in this field may choose to pursue a master’s in healthcare management2 in hopes of further developing their knowledge and strengthening their healthcare management skills. Current or aspiring healthcare managers wishing to take a deeper dive into database management, health analytics, the security of electronic health records, or information systems might also consider a concentration in health informatics. Pursuing a more business-oriented degree program such as a Bachelor of Business Administration—Healthcare Management, Master of Business Administration—Healthcare Management, or a Doctor of Management—Healthcare Management and Leadership is yet another option for those interested in expanding their healthcare management skills and knowledge.

What Is Healthcare Administration?

Healthcare administration, like healthcare management, also deals with the business side of healthcare. Generally speaking, however, those in healthcare administration tend to perform general office management duties, providing the administrative support services that help keep a medical office or facility running. Like healthcare managers, you’ll find them working in various types of medical facilities, but unlike healthcare managers, they are not usually expected to spearhead organization-wide policy initiatives—rather, their focus is on making sure that the administrative functions of their healthcare office run smoothly.

Healthcare Administration Skills

Familiarity with medical terminology, rules of ethics, privacy regulations, certain software applications, and medical reimbursements, as well as possessing strong interpersonal communication abilities, are just a few of the healthcare management skills that could prove useful in keeping the day-to-day activities of a medical office or other type of healthcare facility running efficiently.

Healthcare Administration Degree Program Options

Associate of Science in Health Administration Services ld be the first step toward pursuing a bachelor’s degree program in healthcare management in the future. A Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management might make sense even for those who wish to remain in healthcare administration, as many of the courses covered—including patient privacy laws and managerial tactics—are relevant to administrative healthcare roles, and many of the skills taught may be transferable as well.

Healthcare Management vs. Healthcare Administration: Deciding Which Is Right for You

Now that we have established what healthcare management is vs. what healthcare administration is, let’s remember what was stated at the beginning of this piece—although differences exist, these terms are often used interchangeably! You should do your research to make sure any degree program you choose to pursue is suited to your interests and long-term goals, and you should investigate the optional and mandatory licensing requirements that may be required for different healthcare management or healthcare administration services career paths.

Explore Colorado Technical University’s degree program offerings in healthcare today.


1 National Center for O*NET Development, “11-9111.00—Medical and Health Services Managers,” O*NET OnLine, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/11-9111.00 (last visited 9/3/2020).
2 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Medical and Health Services Managers,” https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm (last visited 9/3/2020).
3 The Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) certification examination is offered by the National Healthcare Association (NHA). CTU cannot guarantee that graduates of a degree program will be eligible to take third-party certification examinations. Certification requirements for taking and passing these exams are controlled by outside entities and are subject to change without notice to CTU.

CTU cannot guarantee employment, salary, or career advancement. Not all programs are available to residents of all states. REQ1594065 11/2020

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