Health Care Administration vs. Health Care Management: What’s the Difference?

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health care admin working on a laptop in a hospital

There are increasing opportunities for health care professionals to grow their careers. Those looking at health care administration vs. health care management should know both career paths have the potential to be exciting and rewarding choices.

Students who pursue a Master of Health Administration (MHA) will be training to manage and oversee medical facility staff. Those who have a passion for day-to-day health care business operations, including tasks such as budgeting and organizational flow, may find that a Master of Health Management (MHM) puts them in greater alignment with their professional goals.

Notable Facts About MHA Programs

MHA degree programs are designed to teach professionals in an engaging, collaborative learning environment that enables them to build upon a pre-existing skill set in health care operations. Consequently, most of these programs require that applicants have recent full-time professional experience in the U.S. health care system.

MHA Coursework

The online MHA program at Ohio University, for example, is designed to help candidates succeed in their careers. The program’s curriculum includes such courses as U.S. Health Care Delivery Systems, Information Systems for Health Services, Health Policy, and Evaluation and Quality Improvement in Health Care.

Also included are courses designed to improve leadership skills, increase exposure to health care finance best practices, and provide insight into the laws that govern health care providers and third-party payers.

Typical Skills Gained by Graduates

Critical skills typically gained by graduates of an MHA program include legal and ethical knowledge; an understanding of business finance, including budgeting, forecasting, and profit and loss statements; and enhanced leadership capabilities. Upon graduation, professionals are well-positioned to understand the many critical administrative tasks that go into developing and managing a health care organization.

Career Opportunities

Health care administrators are focused on activities that improve clinical quality and enhance financial growth. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the employment of medical and health services managers, including health care administrators, will grow by 20% between 2016 and 2026. This is much faster than the projected growth for other occupations. Baby boomers, who will consume more and more health care services, are a key component of the growth trajectory for positions in this field.

The latest data from compensation source PayScale indicates that the median annual salary for health care administrators was $64,655 per year, although top earners reported earning more than $103,000. The top three skills that can impact earning potential are strategic planning, program management, and strategic project management.

Notable Facts About MHM Programs

While MHA programs are geared toward professionals who have recent work experience in the U.S. health care system, most MHM programs do not require the same. An undergraduate degree, however, is mandatory for those interested in enrolling in an MHM program.

Master of Health Management programs helps students develop acumen in general business functions and expose them to finance, accounting, and supply chain management. This is a notable difference for those deciding whether to pursue a career in health care administration vs. health care management.

MHM Coursework

A Master of Health Management program often features coursework in health care informatics, health care technologies, cybersecurity, legal and ethical theory, and leadership training.

A key function of the coursework is developing students’ ability to form and implement strategies for managing accounting, finance, and general business operations.

Skills Typically Gained by Graduates

Critical skills typically gained by graduates of an MHM program include enhanced managerial, leadership, and negotiation skills. Upon completion of the coursework, professionals are well suited to pursue business-centric positions at clinics, health care associations, health insurance organizations, rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing facilities, and other related institutions.

Career Opportunities

Health care managers usually spend their time focused on the business aspects of health care and oversee business operations, management activities, budgeting, and forecasting. The BLS predicts that positions for health care managers will grow by 20% between 2016 and 2026, which is much faster than the projected growth for other occupations.

The most recent findings from PayScale indicate the median salary of those who have a Master of Science in Health Management is $79,000, although top earners may realize more than $100,000 per year.

Choosing to Pursue a Career in Health Care Administration vs. Health Care Management

Professionals who have previous health care experience may choose to enroll in Ohio University’s online Master of Health Administration (MHA) program. It is structured to provide the skills, tools, and knowledge that help advance careers and build exciting futures.

Discover how this dynamic online program can help you take your career to the next level.


Recommended Readings

Ohio University Blog, “How the Veterans Health Administration Was Established and Where It Is Today”
Ohio University Blog, “MHA Career Path: How to Become a Hospital Administrator”
Ohio University Blog, “The Characteristics That Make a Great Leader in Health Administration”

Sources, Health Administrator
Houston Chronicle, “Comparison of Health Care Management vs. Health Care Administration”
Ohio University, Online Master of Health Administration
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers