Define the roles and application of management functions used by today's health care managers with special attention to the four major functions of management in a health care setting.  How do...

Define the roles and application of management functions used by today's health care managers with special attention to the four major functions of management in a health care setting.  How do these functions apply to managing others or even yourself in your current or previous job?  What is the most important role for a health care manager and leader in the diversified health care industry?  

Expert Answers
kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The four functions of management in a health care setting are planning, leading, organizing, and controlling.  These functions provide the basis for the common model used in most health care management training programs.  Some manuals include additional functions, for example, financial controls or staffing, but the universal functions are those specified.  Each involves a key component in the operations of an organization, medical or otherwise. 

The first function is planning.  It is a core responsibility of management to establish institutional goals and strategies for meeting those goals.  Once the institutional goals and strategies are established, management then breaks the organization down into teams, departments or individual roles and responsibilities.  The bottom line, however, is that the manager is responsible for setting the organization on the desired path, ensuring that each component is incorporated into the short and long-term strategies for achieving objectives.

The second function is organization.  Organizing for the successful conduct of operations follows directly from the function of planning.  While planning sets objectives and strategies, however, organizing involves the design and implementation of the proper structure necessary to the smooth operation of the health care facility.  Establishing an organizational structure suitable for the task at hand ensures that all divisions or departments are physically situated where they can perform the most efficiently and are staffed and funded appropriately.  Organizing involves the placement of individuals and teams where they are most able to coordinate with other individuals and teams to minimize the prospect of miscommunications and to avoid mistakes resulting from the inability of departments to work together.

Regarding leadership, while most managers seek to hire subordinates who are capable of operating independently, it is the management-level personnel to whom the myriad employees within a health care organization respond and whose example they follow.  Especially in an industry where decisions and operations can have life-and-death consequences, effective leadership is absolutely essential for ensuring that the probabilities for errors are minimized and accountability is ensured.  Managers are expected to demonstrate competency, confidence, and an ability to lead employees in the proper conduct of their daily activities.  Effective leadership entails establishment and maintenance of a cordial yet professional atmosphere in which everybody understands their responsibilities and their roles in the broader organization.

Finally, controlling is the function that involves ensuring that proper standards of conduct are maintained and that the otherwise inevitable “let-down” in quality of performance does not occur.  In the health care industry, quality control is not a luxury; it is an absolute imperative.  Errors resulting from substandard performance can not only lead to the death of patients, but will also leave the organization exposed to legal liability.

The documents linked below provide more extensive explanations of the four major management functions than can be accommodated here.

In a diversified health care industry, all four functions remain relevant, even more so as advanced information technologies involve greater interaction with remote facilities in a real-time basis, thereby adding a potentially complicating variable to the equation.