The Difference Between Healthcare Management & Healthcare Administration

stethoscope and diplomaAt first glance, health care management and healthcare administration seem identical. Not synonymous in the least, managerial and administrative roles are inherently different. According to Mosby’s Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Health Professions, “management is the act, art, or manner of handling, controlling, directing over primary health care services in a medical group service,” while, “administration is the act of directing, administering following policies and principles in one executive activity,” that typically concern coverage policy, payment and the activities of government contractors.

The general difference between healthcare administration and healthcare management is that management runs the healthcare organization and administration handles the staffing. But within those two general areas are several sub-areas of concern that require years of intense education and experience to get right.

However, the main commonalities of these two roles are the comprehension of ethical and legal responsibilities in the medical field, medical terminology and HIPAA regulations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) considers those who work at the administrative level within a healthcare context under the same blanket occupation of “Medical and Health Services Managers.” They probably do this to help people compare salary information and general duties of the role, but in truth, this doesn’t offer a clear picture of each occupation’s primary duties. Still, these professionals do share some similar tasks, which should be noted.

As healthcare professionals, both work primarily in hospitals or private physician offices overseeing certain aspects of the administrative or managerial tasks. They might assign work schedules, maintain records, improve the functionality of larger hospitals and manage patient billing accounts. In essence, they act as non-medical staff responsible for maintaining a medical facility’s day-to-day operations.


Due to their fundamental differences, each facet of these roles requires the knowledge of certain sub-disciplines. Where health care management is concerned with controlling the direction of a healthcare facility or network, people in this role must possess the following skill set: effective communication skills, knowledge of computers and their systems. Knowledge of electronic medical records, medical storage information, scheduling appointments, patient reception, processing, office environment and daily operations is also essential. Utilizing such a skill set is driven by the need to understand policy, accounting and facilities management. For this reason, many health care managers specialize in accounting in order to grasp and address the concerns associated with this position.

Conversely, a health care administrator’s main focus is the health care facility’s interaction with patients and its staff, largely depending on what the facility specializes in. To be effective, health care administrators must have a thorough understanding of the methods associated with a specific facet of medical research or treatment in order to best utilize the skill sets of his or her staff. The sub-disciplines that are required of a healthcare administrator are the knowledge of current policies of health care, billing, reimbursement, coding practice, banking, financial practice and human resources.

Education Requirements

A big difference between a healthcare manager and a healthcare administrator is that most healthcare organizations require their managers to have an educational background that is specific to healthcare management such as the degree programs available at FNU.

Although the minimum requirement for both positions is a bachelor’s degree, master’s degrees in health services, long-term care administration, public health, public administration or business administration are becoming increasingly common. However, health care organizations typically require health care managers to have an educational background that specifically adheres to the makeup of health care management. In turn, health care administrators have more flexibility in their educational pursuits, where most have either an MHA or an MBA with a concentration in healthcare. Depending on what kind of administration the person chooses to get involved with, the option of getting an MBA with a healthcare focus would probably be the better choice.

Accounting for the long term salary difference, obtaining a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration is well worth the money. Overall, a career in hospital administration is very lucrative and can be completed in as little as two or three years.

FNU Healthcare Programs

Associates Degrees

This program is designed for students planning to pursue a higher-level degree in health services administration as well as to equip students with skills needed in entry-level supervisory positions in the health services field.

This program is designed for students planning to pursue a higher-level degree in Hospitality Management. It offers key introductory courses within the field of Hospitality Management
Bachelor’s Degree

The Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration program provides students with a broad view of today’s Health Care System. The program provides the professional skills needed for administrative positions throughout the Health Care Industry.

Soft Skills

Considering both positions are mostly found at the executive level, health care managers and administrators need to have leadership skills and understand good management practices. Since an administrator’s role is more concerned with utilizing the talents of his or her staff, he or she would do best by implementing staff management procedures, while a health care manager needs to possess adequate leadership skills to influence the direction of a facility’s or network’s policies and procedures.

Aside from the differences stated above, both health care managers and administrators must possess the following soft skills to truly be effective in his or her career:

  • Analytical skills
  • Communication skills
  • Detail oriented
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Technical skills

Employment Growth

Due to a rapidly aging population, the demand for healthcare only continues to increase, making the projected job outlook for both occupations positive. With this proliferation, the shift will primarily occur in the offices of health practitioners as many services and procedures will move away from hospitals because of the complexity and breadth of medical technology available. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of medical and health services managers is projected to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.”

Pay & Job Environment

As jobs in the health care sector tend to have a promising return on one’s educational investment, the pay for health care managers and administrators does not deviate from the norm. Although earnings depend on the type and size of a facility, as well as the degree of one’s responsibility, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, “The median annual wage for medical and health services managers was $99,730 in May 2018.”

Undoubtedly, working in the health care sector requires a commitment to full time employment. For this reason, health care managers and administrators must be prepared to work on a whim as they are sometimes needed for emergencies or must work during the evening, weekends, or overnight. Generally, both health care managers and administrators are employed by hospitals at the local, state and private level, ambulatory health care services, nursing and residential health care facilities, and for the government.

In sum, both professionals are not different in the sense that they have to be integrated with the medical team. Furthermore, they are part of any medical team and that is why they both need to understand the medical language, medical work, and the different psychological environment of patients and health care workers.

Florida National University Wants The Best For Your Future Career

The entire concept of separating healthcare administrators from healthcare managers can be confusing. In many smaller healthcare organizations, the two roles are merged together to help save on costs. But when you decide to get into the healthcare industry, you need to have a comprehensive understanding of each field before you choose the one you will specialize in. Healthcare management deals with the big business picture of a health organization, while the administrator runs departments and is concerned with staff scheduling and departmental budgets. Until you take the time to analyze both carefully, the confusion between the two can become frustrating.

The best approach to take when trying to determine your career path is to spend time with one of our educational advisors. Also, anyone with practical career experience will be able to give you the advice you need to make the right decision.