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Ambulatory care simply means that you’re able to receive healthcare for a health issue that, while in past decades it may have meant a days-long hospital stay, now it can be performed on an outpatient basis. Childbirth, gallbladder surgery, cataract surgery: all of these can be completed the same day you check in. Once you wake up in recovery, you are able to go back home after your vitals have been checked and verified as within normal ranges, and your doctor decides you are stable enough.
Working as an administrator or manager in an ambulatory care facility means you’ll be responsible for a number of public health duties. But you may not experience as much stress as the administrator of a hospital, simply due to a lower risk that a patient may experience a medical crisis.
Ambulatory care refers to any type of medical service that doesn’t require a hospital stay, though they may take place in a hospital. These may consist of diagnosis, wellness, rehabilitation, or other treatments (this encompasses substance abuse facilities and chemotherapy).
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What is Ambulatory Care Administration or Management?
In this role, you are a professional working in a health care environment. You may work in an outpatient surgery center, a substance abuse treatment facility, a wellness center, a diagnostic facility, or even in a large hospital that offers outpatient services.
Overall, your educational requirements include a master’s degree in either business administration, healthcare administration, or public administration. Any one of these degree programs will introduce you to budgeting, the overall organization of a hospital, and strategic planning. You’ll also be introduced to human resource management and general healthcare settings. You need to possess both problem-solving and analytical skills, as well as knowledge about medical procedures and technical knowledge in the field of medicine. You’ll be expected to adapt with little notice to changes in regulation, processes, and technology. Your communication and interpersonal skills should be top-notch, since you’ll be using them every day in interacting with employees, staff, the public, and most importantly, patients.
Your biggest responsibilities will include supervising administrative processes in an ambulatory care facility. You also need to be skilled in the operational areas of administering such a facility. You’ll be responsible for ensuring quality patient care and making sure the facility is fully operational and productive. You’ll also ensure the facility is safe for your employees to work in and that it meets pertinent regulations, of which there are many.
Getting down to the smaller details, you may be responsible for recruiting new employees, overseeing their training, and doing performance evaluations. You’ll make sure that each department is working within its budget and inventory levels. It’s your responsibility to make sure that every employee and department is complying with regulatory agencies. It’s also within your role to coordinate the daily health care duties so that the workflow is improved for everyone in the facility. An example is meeting one-on-one with primary care facilities via remote systems (computer, phone) to coordinate and deliver patient care more efficiently.
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What is the Difference Between an Ambulatory Care Administrator and Ambulatory Care Manager?
While these roles seem as if they would occupy the same space in various organizations, that isn’t necessarily the case.
An ambulatory care administrator:
- Works more closely with patients and their care team
- Gather and analyze patient data
- Provide recommendations for patient care plans and evaluate care being provided
- Help nursing personnel to provide patient care
- Divide tasks among Healthcare Administrators
- Supervise activities of both unlicensed and licensed care providers
- Oversee and provide corrective actions, ensuring a high level of care
- Take part in the professional development of staff: ensuring that mandatory competencies are met; identify needs and looking for appropriate educational courses
A manager of an ambulatory care center
- Manages various administrative areas of an ambulatory care center
- Supervises operational tasks in care facilities
- Carry out basic healthcare settings tasks—make sure staff is productive, providing a high level of patient care
- Ensure that the work environment is safe.
What are the Educational Requirements for Ambulatory Care Managers?
As a care center manager, you’re required to earn a Bachelor of Science in Health Services Administration. This degree offers a wide view into the modern health care system. You’ll also learn all the healthcare professionals skills you’ll need to work in an administrative position in any healthcare environment. These include leadership, communication, analytical, interpersonal, technical skills, and problem-solving.
As an administrator, you’ll work much more closely with patients within an ambulatory care setting. Because you’ll be working so closely with both medical and nursing plans, you may want to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or an Associate in Nursing, plus at least one year of clinical experience.
With a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, you would be an excellent choice to be chosen for an ambulatory care administrator’s position. With your nursing experience and knowledge, you would be highly capable of managing an ambulatory care setting, from a day surgery unit to a wellness center. Ambulatory care is a specialty that stands on a broad base of health care, applied clinical science, and nursing; you would be required to rely on evidence-based knowledge and research in carrying out your role.
- Topics of Professional Nursing Practice
- Healthcare Informatics
- Mental Health Nursing (with Clinical)
- Medical Surgical Nursing II (with Clinical)
- Research and Evidence Based Practice
- Community/Public health Nursing (with Clinical)
- Leadership and Management
A Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration or a Healthcare Management Bachelor's is a second degree that would suit you if you choose to work as an ambulatory care administrator or manager.
- Introduction to Character and Ethics
- Introduction to Political Science
- Nutrition and Wellness
- Financial Accounting and Reporting
- Organizational Behavior
- Management Information Systems
- Human Resource Management
- Orientation to Clinical Protocols
- Health Facility Operations
- Healthcare Informatics
- Legal and Ethical Aspects of Health care Administration
In earning a master’s degree in health science and policy, you’d equip yourself with many skills at a higher level to lead an ambulatory care facility. You’ll recognize the need for more efficiency; you want to see management and organization become more streamlined and you also want the technology your employer uses to be the best available.
An outpatient care center would be just one of the ways you could direct your career. With your experience and education, you’ll be able to step into a managerial or administrative role in public health.
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resources in Healthcare
- Health Law and Ethics in the Healthcare Industry
- Quality and Performance Improvement in Healthcare
- Healthcare Facility Information Systems
- Health Services Organization and Delivery
- Organizational Behavior in Healthcare Organizations
- Financial Management I and II
- Management and Human Resources of Health care Organizations
- Managerial Epidemiology Research & Statistics
- Clinical Issues in Health Services Management
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Possible Job Roles and Titles
Working as either a manager or administrator in an health administration environment, you will ensure efficient and compassionate treatment for the people who walk through your doors.
- Ambulatory Services Executive
In this position, you’ll work behind the scenes, helping to make the jobs of the front-line nurses and doctors easier. You hold a senior-level position as you work on all aspects of healthcare in your organization. You coordinate human resources, scheduling, and financial so that the medical and nursing personnel can focus on their own jobs.
You may work in a day surgery facility, which means you need to ensure that all medical equipment is fully stocked, along with personal protective equipment that the medical staff uses. Patients who come in for surgery shouldn’t have to worry that their needs won’t be met.
- Director of Assisted Living (Health Care Administrator/Manager)
While the residents live in an assisted living facility, they are still free to move around as they please, from the dining room to the recreational areas. They are also able to go out with family members for some time together before returning to the facility. Assisted living facilities also function as long-term senior care, providing care, housing, and services for seniors who need a little more care and supervision. The facility you manage may be smaller, housing few residents; or it may be larger, providing services to many more seniors. Your education and experience will help you to fit in easily in an assisted living facility. Again, your work takes place behind the scenes.
- Rehabilitation Center Director/CEO/CFO/Manager/Administrator
A rehabilitation center may be one that helps patients to recover from injury or illness or it may be a substance abuse facility. Another type of rehabilitation center works with people who have a criminal history. As a healthcare manager, you should fit in perfectly with your set of skills and knowledge. Your education and training allow you to manage the facility, oversee the finances and accounting, handle hiring, training and firing, managing human resources, and setting up the training that new and existing employees need. If you have medical or nursing experience, this will support your management experience perfectly.
- Clinical Leader/Manager
In this position, having prior medical or nursing experience shows that you possess the knowledge that you need to manage a clinic providing services in a specific clinical area (such as radiology). You should have some experience in this medical specialty before returning to school to earn either your bachelor’s or master’s degree in healthcare administration. Once you’ve earned your degree, you may be offered a position as a clinical leader. Your past knowledge will help guide you as you manage the department or facility.
- Ambulatory Care Administration Manager
This role requires you to oversee and manage the operations of a healthcare clinic. The operations for which you’ll be responsible include human resources and finance. You’ll also oversee general management operations.
You’ll be responsible for short- and long-term planning; mitigate risk management problems; and focus on improving the workplace culture so that patient service standards improve. You want to create a clinical environment that leads employees to provide high-quality care. You may also develop, then carry out clinic policies and verify that your clinic is in compliance with billing and coding practices.
- Ambulatory Care Administration Supervisor
You’ll provide management at the administrative level and may support your staff as you carry out operational and analytical duties that impact the efficient operation of an Ambulatory Float Pool. You’ll be the primary administrative support for the facility and also be the main backup supervisor for the Float Pool. This means you’ll offer project support to the float pool, Clinical Operations, and Clinic Leadership Teams.
Certification or Continuing Education?
Successfully Establishing a Telehealth Service in Your Practice
On Demand This recorded seminar also includes the certification exam you’ll use to obtain credits for continuing education. Telehealth services are becoming an option that brings ambulatory care centers into the 21st century. Your practice sets up a viable telehealth service so that patients can receive virtual healthcare.
You’ll learn from case studies which telehealth efforts worked and which ones did not. You’ll also learn why these efforts didn’t work. In this online seminar, you’ll learn how to create a plan that will allow you to successfully design and carry out your newest service. You’ll discuss how to evaluate proper staffing so that the delivery of telehealth services works for your patients; and so you are able to operate and maintain the telehealth network. This seminar also shows you how to establish best billing practices for telehealth services for all payors (insurance, private pay, Medicare, and Medicaid). By the time you complete this seminar, you’ll be able to introduce this service to your facility and patients.
The exam is challenging due to the seminar’s topic. Telehealth is a new concept in healthcare services. Continuing education credits are available.
Healthcare Management Certificate
This certificate aids MBA students in learning the information they need in providing management in the legal, operational, and financial issues related to the successful operation of an ambulatory care center. Students learn that the challenges they face in a healthcare setting are different from those they might face in other professions.
By completing this healthcare management certificate, students ready themselves to work as either administrators or managers in a healthcare setting of any kind, including an ambulatory care practice.
This certificate is challenging and will require at least three semesters to complete, due to course rotations and any prerequisites. In the fall, students take COHE 6000 and COHE 6610. Spring requirements: COHE 6000, 6600 and 6620. Summer 1: COHE 6000 and 6300. The exam is considered to be somewhat difficult.
Ambulatory care facility managers and administrators must take continuing education classes toward periodic recertification requirements for their state. In one state (California), the Administrator Certification Section provides official support to administrators who need to meet their initial certification and recertification requirements. This includes posting lists of third-party vendors who provide administrator training and certification courses. Currently, the ACS offers a full list of courses for administrators to take. This includes programs and course lists so that administrators are able to decide what meets their needs.
Rather than earning a license, an administrator or manager of an ambulatory care center earns a certification in a specific area, such as health administration, ethics and legal issues, or telehealth services. Ambulatory care administrators with nursing or medical degrees still have to retain their licensure as required by their state.
These continuing education requirements can be obtained in one of several ways such as short courses, online programs, workshops, third-party programs, or certifications.
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Salary and Career Outlook
Ambulatory care centers and facilities are in demand and that need is continuing to increase. The demand for health services managers, such as ambulatory care administrators and managers is expected to rise by 18% between 2018 and 2028. This is noticeably faster than the average for all other occupations.
One factor affecting the increase in demand for these administrators is the aging of the Baby Boom population. In addition, people are staying active for years longer than their parents and grandparents did. Both populations need medical care at a higher rate; doctors, nurses, and administrators are needed to help manage the medical facilities that older baby boomers and active seniors need.
Specifically, employment growth will increase in health practitioners’ offices. Another factor affecting the increase in employment is the shift of services that were previously provided in hospitals and the healthcare industry.
The average annual salary of a director of ambulatory care is $92,000. And the average annual salary of an administrator of a surgical center is $90,000.