Top Chronic Health Challenges of Hospital Administrators

pillsHospital administrators don’t deal directly with patients, but it is still very important for them to understand the illnesses for which patients come to their health institutions.

Though fields in healthcare administration and public health vary widely, there are a few top chronic health issues that most administrators will deal with throughout their careers. As a new health administrator, you may be tasked with helping to develop institutional strategies and administrative procedures to address these illnesses.


Over nine percent of the United States has either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, a disease that causes high glucose levels. The sheer number of people affected makes the illness a large public health concern. To complicate matters further, many cases of diabetes are undiagnosed, which in 2012 was at least 8.1 million people. It is important to know that rates of diabetes vary among different socioeconomic groups.

As a hospital administrator you will likely need to manage care addressing the high prevalence of diabetes in the senior population, as well as the rising number of youth developing the illness. Also, you’ll encounter a high rate of diabetes-related complications throughout hospital patients, such as hypertension, stroke, eye problems, and kidney disease.

Overweight & Obesity

At least two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Similar to diabetes, rates of obesity tend to increase with age and vary widely between different demographic groups. Overweight and obesity result from energy imbalance and can contribute to several other health conditions such as osteoarthritis and heart disease.

Hospital administrators and public health staff will spend some of their time working on planning and policy related to the rising number of overweight children. You may be tracking patient statistics, such as Body Mass Index (BMI), which is used to determine someone as overweight, obese, or healthy body type.

Heart Disease

The most common heart illness in the U.S. is Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). CAD develops through the buildup of plaque within the walls of arteries in the body, particularly those that flow to the heart. Too much buildup makes it hard for blood to move properly to the heart. Some, but not all, people have a heart attack as a sign of CAD.

Hospital administrators may have to make decisions related to the acquisition and maintenance of the equipment to run tests to diagnose CAD. These tests may include chest X-rays, echocardiograms, and cardiac catheterization.


Cancer is one of the most varied and challenging chronic illnesses you’ll likely encounter as a health administrator. Cancer is caused by the uninhibited growth and spread of abnormal cells within the body. Many cancers are at least partially caused by known factors such as tobacco use, inactivity, or hormone use, but others have unknown causes.

As a hospital administrator you may be involved in management decisions about how your institution will pursue cancer treatments and the latest cancer technology. Procedures your institution offers may include screenings, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and immune therapy, for instance. Costs and benefits among these options may vary widely.

Knowing a little about these top chronic illnesses that you’ll see throughout your health administration career will make you more equipped to succeed as a competent and compassionate professional.