Job Profile: Home Health Care Administrator

Home Health Care Administrators develop, operate and manage private health organization businesses or government health programs which provide services to individuals needing healthcare in their homes. Most people are familiar with home health services geared toward the elderly. These services help them remain in their homes instead of moving to residential care facilities. Home health services can also include hospice care and care for non-elderly disabled people, including children. Home health administrators may have several different types of specialty and expertise, from business management to nursing administration. The position requires education and experience enabling them to provide management, assessment, planning and staff supervision. They also need to be able to work seamlessly with other health providers, supervise staff members, and modify programs and policy to meet emerging needs for individual patients as well as the organization and community as a whole.

Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for medical and health services managers, which includes home health administrators, is $96,540 a year. BLS statistics include administrators at all types of health and medical agencies and businesses. Averaging employment listings, Payscale reports that the median salary for home health agency administrators is $74,672.

Beginning Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the lowest 10 percent of health services managers earned $56,970 or less. This represents entry-level or beginning salaries, or salaries of managers working in smaller home health organizations.

Key Responsibilities

Home health care administrators oversee staff and departments at home health agencies, or divisions of hospitals or medical clinics serving patients at home. They hire and manage nurses and other health care staff who provide services to patients in home or non-clinical care environments. They must adhere to guidelines on quality of care and in some cases, will be asked to create the guidelines based on state and organizational standards. They also need to be proficient in budgeting, resource planning, logistics and development and implementation of care plans for patients.

Necessary Skills

Because they oversee nursing staff, organize care plans, and arrange or provide training for caregivers, home health administrators need skills in personnel management, staff training and effective adult learning strategies. They must also be familiar with local, state and federal regulations governing home health care provision. Fiscal management and accounting skills are also important, because they are required not only to administer budgets for staff, equipment and service delivery, they also are asked to establish budgets and guidelines for expenditures. Increasingly, marketing skills are desired, because many home health organizations have set goals for growth in patients, service and revenue. Working with diverse staff members and patients makes strong “people” skills and customer service experience a must as well.

Degree and Education Requirements

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that you will need at least a bachelor’s degree to begin a career as a home health administrator. Many organizations prefer a master’s degree, and many people who already in the profession have them. Majors include health administration, health care management, nursing administration, public health, and business administration with a health specialization. The increasing specialization of health care-related fields also provides opportunity for managers with degrees in human resources, health information systems and health informatics, healthcare ethics, and the law. Many positions in larger health systems will require experience working directly with patients, in the form of internships or practicums, which are unpaid, supervised healthcare jobs that provide hands-on experience. Practicums usually last a year and are part of master’s degree or other advanced degree programs.

Rewards and Challenges

People who work as home health administrators have the satisfaction of knowing they are helping people to live more independently. They are also able to work in compassionate environments with caring co-workers and employees. Home health administrators have the potential of earning more than $100,000 a year in positions with larger organizations or in urban areas. They also have good potential for job security and advancement. Challenges include the risk of burnout and stress related to patient needs and supervising healthcare employees who are also at risk of burnout. Making sure the organization complies with regulations at all levels, from local to federal, can also cause stress. Current administrators cite challenges in adhering to strict budgets while working with vendors and employees.

Getting Started

If you possess at least a bachelor’s degree in the field, and preferably a master’s degree, the best way to get started as a home health care administrator is to work in a hospital or other healthcare facility. It’s important to gain experience in the complex administrative and policy concerns that home health care administrators must be familiar with in order to attain success. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that entry-level positions in home health administration include medical records technicians, administrative assistants in hospitals or clinics, or medical billing clerks in health care offices and facilities. Home health agencies with a nursing emphasis often employ registered nurses with years of experience in management roles. On the job experience in a health care setting that interacts with patients transferring from hospital to home, or seeking to stay at home, is essential to getting started in the job.

Future Outlook

The overall health care industry is projected to grow by 17% over the next five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Home health agencies are projected to grow even faster, primarily because of the aging Baby Boomer population. The National Association for Home Care and Hospice says that expenditures on home health care for elderly and disabled patients will represent 20% of national health expenditures by 2025. Hospitals, clinics and home health agencies are already experiencing shortages of home health care aides, nurses and administrators.

Administrators for home health care are part of one of the fastest-growing sectors of healthcare in North America. Families, medical providers, and the aging population all believe that aging in place and staying at home, rather than long-term care facilities or hospitals, is best for patient health, long life, and overall well-being. Home care is also more affordable than facility-based care. Home health care administrators have a strong career outlook, rewards through helping others, and opportunities to earn a salary that reflects their education and experience.

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