Healthcare is a vast and complicated industry which requires project managers to adapt to a whole range of new skills and requirements due to its intricacies. A report by Georgetown University and the National Institutes of Health came to the conclusion that by 2020 there would be 5.6 million new healthcare jobs. This is fueled by the fact that Americans spend $3 trillion dollars on healthcare per year, which is only expected to grow in the coming years, according to projections from the Health Affairs journal.
Project Management in the Healthcare Industry
With these huge increases in jobs and money in the industry, healthcare administrators are keen to streamline their workflows and implement new processes. Increasing their rates of project success and lowering cost outputs are major parts of project management in the healthcare industry but, as laid out by the Massachusetts Hospital Association, the major benefit is being able “to be one step ahead of any potential risk”.
With healthcare litigation and malpractice judgements costing providers more than $50 billion a year, it’s no surprise that one of the main objectives for healthcare project management is to assess, track and minimize risk. For any project manager looking to move into the healthcare sector these are important elements to note as they add an extra layer of project responsibility which is not generally present, or at least not to such an extent, in other fields.
There is also the fact that healthcare often has a unique market outlook compared to other industries. There are a wide variety of “market variables” and atypical “buyer” and “seller” relationships. The services provided aim to be as successful as possible, yet absolute success can also mean 100% customer churn and a constant cycle of new patients and dynamics.
It is also notable for the difference in stakeholder involvement. Hospital boards, managerial staff, frontline providers, consultants, patients and indeed local and national government, as representatives of society at large, all have a very keen interest in the various projects that are carried out. Healthcare project management therefore often includes a lot more stakeholder involvement, with a considerably wider pool of “approvers” necessary for sign-off for different elements. As it is such an emotive issue for the public also, any budding healthcare project manager should be prepared to be drawn into politics, both professional and actual.
Another major element to consider before embarking on project management in the healthcare industry is the increased regulation and oversight which comes with the territory. Electronic health record systems, data protection considerations, regulations covering patient rights as well as a host of nefarious actors seeking to profit from the information held by healthcare providers all create a maelstrom of security obligations and risks. These regulations are of course warranted and necessary but can provide a major headache for someone entering the industry from another field.
Overall, healthcare project management can be a challenging and rewarding role, both monetarily and in terms of personal satisfaction. There are many unique elements to the industry which can take some getting used to but, like any position, with dedication, research and practice you can become a successful healthcare project manager. Using the best project management software available will be of great benefit in that quest.