The United States has a massive healthcare industry—one of the world's biggest—and it's growing. Healthcare spending increased from $1.4 trillion in 2000 to $4.1 trillion in 2020. To put it a different way, citizens in the 1970s spent an average of $353 per year on their health. Today, that figure is north of $12,000.
The responsibility of managing all this money in healthcare systems is placed on healthcare administrators. These professionals work in healthcare settings of all sizes, from small clinics and doctor's offices to insurance companies and government agencies. Administrative professionals create and oversee budgets, develop better systems, and manage day-to-day operations. Practically speaking, they handle everything but direct patient care.
Working in health administration can be challenging. Fortunately, professionals don't need to work in a vacuum. Joining a professional association can offer the continuing education, networking, and advocacy tools needed to successfully navigate the massive and complex healthcare system.
Keep on reading for an answer to the question what are the best healthcare administration professional organizations? This article also covers:
There's no limit to the number of professional organizations you can join. You'll likely pick one or more based on your job or career goals. Top professional organizations for healthcare administrators include:
This professional society helps revenue cycle professionals deal with healthcare finance. The organization organizes conferences where members can network and discuss issues related to reimbursement, medical records, and collections. Members pursuing continuing education and their children can access scholarships of up to $2,500. Organizational certificates include the Certified Revenue Cycle Executive (CRCE), Certified Revenue Cycle Professional (CRCP), and Certified Revenue Integrity Professional (CRIP).
The ACHE states that becoming a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (FACHE) demonstrates a commitment to improving healthcare from an upper-management position. To earn this credential, you must be a member for at least one year, a healthcare manager of at least five years (and currently a current executive), hold a graduate degree, volunteer, and present references while being up to date on your continuing education. You do not need all of these qualifications to join ACHE.
The organization has over 48,000 members in 77 chapters. Like AAHAM, it offers career development and networking opportunities. ACHE is also responsible for healthcare research and publishing (including textbooks). These programs help healthcare leaders advance the entire healthcare field.
The healthcare professionals who make up this organization typically work to improve patient care practices and outcomes for long-term care facilities. The AHCA partners with the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) and engages in advocacy at the state and federal levels. The agencies' advocacy branch focuses primarily on educating administrators to speak on issues in "long term and post-acute care."
The organizations also offer professional development opportunities, including nurse gerontology training and resources for nursing assistants. These organizations keep a close eye on policy decisions and help providers with the financial side of programs like Medicaid and Medicare.
The AHA offers advocacy, educational opportunities, and research resources. It's also an excellent health administration news and data source. One of the oldest organizations (founded in 1898), its members include healthcare organizations, such as hospitals and networks, and individuals.
The organization is influential, engaging in policy construction and legal matters. Currently, the AHA is pushing for changes to the healthcare system, including cost and patient care tactics. It's also continuing to address the COVID-19 public health crisis.
AHA certifications include Certified Materials & Resources Professional (CMRP) for professionals in the medical supply chain, Certified Healthcare Facility Manager (CHFM) for administrators who manage healthcare buildings, and Certified Healthcare Constructor (CHC) builders.
The HCAA focuses on advocacy and education. Describing itself as "the premier nonprofit trade association elevating third-party administrators (TPAs) and other stakeholders from across the self-funding industry," professional membership perks include conferences, newsletters and podcasts, a certification program, and a human relations program. The organization is open to all benefit administrators.
The HFMA boasts a membership of over 87,000 healthcare organizations and financial decision-makers (including hospitals and insurance agencies). Its goal is to fix the healthcare system financially. HFMA offers continuing education to healthcare leadership professionals and "key industry decision-makers." Members join one of 63 chapters to access events and certifications, including Certified Healthcare Financial Professional (CHFP), Certified Specialist Accounting & Finance (CSAF), Certified Specialist Payment & Reimbursement (CSPR), and Certified Specialist Physician Practice Management (CSPPM).
MGMA offers data and consulting services to organizations looking for guidance on issues related to operations, staffing, and more. Based in Washington, DC, MGMA has connections with lobbyists and within legislative bodies. Recently, it issued statements to Congress appealing for increased COVID-19 protections for the uninsured and to OSHA about potential issues with its new rules about COVID-19 in healthcare settings. MGMA offers several certificates, including Revenue Cycle Management, Accounts Payable, Payroll and Cash Flow Management, Financial Reporting and Budgeting, and Payer Contracting.
This organization works with many industry stakeholders and offers training solutions for healthcare businesses. At a university level, NAHQ provides curriculum guidance to educators. It also offers the Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality (CPHQ) credential for graduate students. Students should complete this certification in conjunction with their master's degree program.
You do not need to belong to a healthcare administration professional organization, but you'll enjoy many benefits if you choose to do so—including vital professional development opportunities and the chance to earn key certificates. Supporting a professional organization that shares your ideals also helps to inspire institutional change on a macro level.
A master's in healthcare administration prepares you for high-ranking healthcare business positions. With the proper education and experience you can step into six-figure roles like clinical practice manager, hospital administrator, and even healthcare CEO. Keep in mind that other degrees, including a Master of Public Health or Master of Business Administration (MBA) combined with a healthcare administration focus can advance your healthcare administration career, too.
Expect to spend two years of full-time study completing a master's in healthcare administration. Certain full-time programs take less time; part-time programs may take longer.
Programs may not list any specific bachelor's degree as an admissions requirement, but common undergraduate majors for applicants include biology, nursing, chemistry, public health, human resources, or business administration. One reason having the proper undergraduate degree can be useful is programs often look for experienced applicants. Usually, this means having at least two years of work history in a healthcare setting. Although online education programs typically offer the same courses and degrees as their in-person counterparts, they are known for being more relaxed about this requirement.
Other common admissions requirements include a personal essay(s), your resume, official transcript(s) (showing a GPA of 3.0 or higher), letters of recommendation, and standardized test scores.
Master's in healthcare curricula cover both business and healthcare. Core subjects include healthcare ethics and law, finance, health information systems, leadership strategy, and policy. Coursework varies by program.
Your specialization (often called a concentration or track) also can impact your coursework. Popular healthcare administration specializations include gerontology, health informatics, human resources, operations and leadership, and quality of care. Each comes with a unique set of requirements. Alternatively, you may be able to build a specialization. Students at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor can choose from 66 courses, then engage in a Integrated Learning Experience (ILE). During this project, they address a real-world health situation.
Top 25 healthcare management programs, according to US News & World Report rankings, include:
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