Healthcare administrators are vital to their organizations, but their responsibilities aren’t just related to “business.” Regardless of the specific position, healthcare administration professionals must understand how to navigate the legalities of healthcare, including care delivery, employment and other business-related aspects of healthcare.
According to an article published by Symplr, “the healthcare industry is constantly changing as lawmakers, payers, patients, and other stakeholders adapt to new realities. In health systems, it is not just the governance, risk and compliance function’s job to stay on top of the law.”
Since to the COVID-19 pandemic, many laws and regulations have come under scrutiny and many healthcare facilities initially struggled to implement new procedures. It became even more crucial for healthcare administrators to step up and ensure they covered all the legal bases.
Per Symplr, such legal responsibilities in healthcare administration include:
- Telehealth law
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance
- Protected health information (PHI)
- Healthcare employers’ liability — to ensure safe work conditions
- Long-term care and nursing homes
- The False Claims Act
- Patient safety and health inequity
- General access to healthcare
Identifying the Biggest Legal Challenges
With these legal elements in mind, healthcare administrators must be aware of and understand the laws and policies that impact healthcare. The biggest legal challenges for healthcare administrators and employees encompass the following:
Money management. Administrators handle healthcare expenses circulated throughout the organization. They must determine how to allocate resources to different departments, such as supplies, equipment and employee salaries. It can be difficult to make adjustments and cuts to a specific area, but it is often necessary to keep the facility running smoothly.
Patient payments. Administrative professionals typically help patients through the payment process for incurred medical expenses. They advise patients on the best plan to help them with financial concerns. However, some patients cannot pay, and administrators must try to develop a workable plan to ensure hospital bills do not go unpaid.
Changing requirements for data specialists. Administrators also must stay updated with changes surrounding electronic medical records to ensure all patient data is stored securely. For example, they negotiate prices for access to digital patient records systems that all healthcare employees can easily use.
A post on the intakeQ blog explains that “administrators will do well if they can find smart IT solutions that can help them improve the efficiency of their practice, retain staff, and improve patient care, all while keeping the practice compliant and under-budget.”
Accelerating Change While Keeping Ethics in Mind
Administrators are responsible for implementing ethical and legal standards within their facilities. They are essentially the starting point for change throughout the medical and business fields.
When deciding types of legal regulations, administrators utilize a level of ethical decision-making to ensure they include every individual within the healthcare process. Ethics help guide administrators when they are unsure of boundaries, and this knowledge helps them determine what is right or just.
Sometimes, ethics and healthcare standards conflict with each other. Administrators must weigh the pros and cons before announcing significant changes in the field. Fortunately, educational programs that are forward-thinking in ethics provide a solid foundation for growth.
Mitigate Legal Challenges With a Master’s Degree
A great way to mitigate the various legal challenges in healthcare is to further your career and earn your Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Those who enroll in the online MBA in Healthcare Administration program at Lamar University learn the principles of global business leadership and how to manage the complexities of business operations in fluid healthcare systems. Students will focus on specialized knowledge of healthcare-specific business topics. Coursework helps enrollees navigate changes within the field and lead facilities into the future.
Ultimately, the program prepares students to understand management’s legal responsibilities within the regulatory environment of healthcare services. For example, the Employment Law course covers the basics of historical interpretations and present provisions of regulations governing labor acts and fair employment practices. In the Managerial Decision Making course, students learn about specific tools for effective decision-making.
Graduates will obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to enter influential roles in the field, such as health system CEO, medical and health services director, hospital administrator, healthcare services consultant or medical practice executive. Depending on their particular goals, students can complete the program in as few as 12 months.
Learn more about Lamar University’s online MBA in Healthcare Administration program.