Job Profile: Health Care Financial Manager

Across the United States, there are 784,626 health care companies generating a total annual revenue beyond $1.6 trillion. In fact, Becker Hospital Review reports that the average inpatient cost at state/local government hospitals is $1,667 per day! Tracking these dollar signs is the hefty task placed on health care financial managers’ shoulders. Health care financial managers are skilled strategists who monitor the organization’s monetary records to achieve revenue goals. Although quality patient care is a top priority, keeping the medical center profitable is also crucial to retain a satisfied, paid workforce. Health care financial managers are hired in mid- to upper-level positions to establish policies that protect fiscal health. Conducting financial analysis to ensure income and expenses are well-balanced for economic stability is their forte.

Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the 531,120 financial managers employed across all U.S. sectors bring home an average yearly salary of $134,330, or $64.58 per hour. Those who work for general medical and surgical hospitals make slightly less at $129,310, but the highest paid health care financial managers find jobs at insurance companies for a mean wage of $149,760 annually.

Beginning Salary

After advancing into health care financial management, you can expect to land in the bottom 10th percentile of earnings with a salary around $63,020. However, it’s possible for health care financial managers to earn considerably more with experience and surpass $163,680. Landing a coveted C-Suite position as the hospital CFO garners a median annual income of $308,778!

Key Responsibilities

Health care financial managers have the primary responsibility of creating, reviewing, and reporting monetary statements for one department or the entire organization. They conduct data analysis to advise the facility’s senior management staff on effective strategies to improve revenue. Managers will oversee the financial details for clinical procedures, including insurance reimbursement, and ensure that legal reporting standards are followed. They seek to control risk by judging the probability of loss and analyzing market trends to set patient prices accordingly. Health care financial managers may also supervise a team of budget analysts, accountants, auditors, and payroll clerks to delve into the organization’s finances.

Necessary Skills

Excelling in health care financial management will require advanced math skills to pore over multifarious clinical invoices and calculate their impact. But being a health care financial manager is more than simply crunching numbers. Managers must have supreme communication skills, both verbal and written, to present complex financial matters in an easy-to-understand format. Health care financial managers must have the strategic thinking skills to inform administrators on smart business decisions. Each task will require analytical ability for drawing apt conclusions from statistics. Technical skills are important because health care financial managers use cutting-edge software for their analysis. Health care financial managers should also possess strong organizational, problem-solving, leadership, and time management skills.

Degree and Education Requirements

Sharpening the aforementioned skills will require trekking into higher education. Most employers seek health care financial managers with at least a four-year bachelor’s degree. Attending an accredited business school to major in finance, accounting, statistics, economics, or business administration is best. However, you’ll likely be more confident with a graduate degree on your resume. Health care organizations prefer candidates holding a Master of Science in Finance, MBA in Finance, or a similar degree. Earning a Master of Health Administration (MHA) will open broad career doors in medical leadership, including finance. Some universities like NYU and Johns Hopkins even offer concentrations specifically for health care finance.

Pros and Cons of the Position

Becoming a health care financial manager could be your calling, but the job will have both upsides and downsides. In the pro column, health care financial managers are rewarded with a worthwhile six-figure salary that’s topped off with excellent benefits. Managers are given plenty of freedom in creating performance measurements they believe are helpful to executives. Health care financial managers reap the intrinsic reward of helping people understand finances and shaping great business strategies. Some jobs are available with only a bachelor’s degree for beneficial ROI. When job hunting stalls, aspiring health care financial managers can apply their skills in other industries like banking or manufacturing. However, a big con is competition with average job growth. Health care financial managers typically need to invest at least five years of experience before advancing. High stress and longer working hours are common features of the job. Health care financial managers also have to deal with presenting bad news when economy dips occur.

Getting Started

Scoring jobs in health care financial management isn’t easy because competition is often high. Putting your best foot forward with a stellar resume is key. Throughout your schooling, take every avenue to gain real-world experience managing money, especially in the health field. Interning or completing a cooperative in a hospital or physician office could pay off. Consider becoming a member of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) for networking too. After graduation, you won’t start in managerial roles. Climb the ladder by working as a claims adjuster, accountant, financial clerk, or budget analyst in a health care facility. Perhaps attend graduate school online or during evenings while working full-time to accelerate advancement. Attaining professional certification like the Certified Healthcare Finance Professional (CHFP) credential can help. This requires taking a webinar and passing a two-module exam. AONE also offers a Certificate Program in Health Care Finance.

Future Outlook

In 2015, the health care sector of the United States set a record by creating 474,400 new jobs. That was a 53 percent increase over the previous year. Hospitals particularly had 172,200 payroll additions. Increased insurance access combined with a larger demand for medical treatment from the baby boomers is sparking jobs like wildfire. Health care facilities need financial managers to plan and coordinate their monetary matters through this growth to avoid overspending. According to the BLS, employment in financial management is projected to only expand by 7 percent through 2024 though. That’s mainly because there are more B-school graduates applying than actual job openings. Finance jobs are usually found in hospitals, physician offices, ambulatory centers, nursing homes, home health services, insurance carriers, and pharmaceutical firms.

Overall, health care financial managers play a pivotal part in managing large amounts of capital received and expended by medical delivery systems. They watch accounting reports closely to establish and tweak monetary objectives that keep health care facilities profitable. Health care financial manager is a generic term that can assume several titles, such as controller, treasurer, billing director, credit manager, and risk manager.

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