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What Are the Duties of a Hospital COO?

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The chief operating officer, or COO, at a hospital ensures that the quality of medical care meets the hospital's overall goals and mission. Without strategic improvement plans and dependable health and safety practices, a hospital couldn't keep up with competiting medical providers. The COO works with the chief financial officer, or CFO, and the chief executive officer, or CEO, to ensure that the hospital has the necessary medical and administrative staff to meet patient demands and budget constraints. A hospital COO holds a top management position, second only to the CEO.

Efficient, Reliable Services

A COO keeps a close eye on the performance of the hospital by studying safety, clinical and physician results. Your top goals are to promote patient safety, encourage patient and physician satisfaction, and provide quality services. You must stay current on hospital safety practices, communicate regularly with physicians and staff, and comply with all state and federal mandates, such as making sure that staff members are trained on biohazard disposal methods. A hospital COO must be a strong leader to advise senior management teams on safe, dependable and cost-efficient practices.

Improvement and Expansion Plans

As a top-ranked officer of the hospital, you must meet with primary stakeholders to discuss the successes, strengths and weaknesses of the hospital. These include patients, doctors, medical staff, administrative staff, financial donors, community leaders and government agencies. A strong grasp of improvement techniques, such as Six Sigma, can help you ensure that the hospital stays current and competitive with other medical facilities. Familiarity with information technology and data analysis is a huge plus. It's your job to manage resources; employ the right number of physicians and staff members; and ensure that high-tech information systems and medical equipment are available to meet patient and staff needs.

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Financial Responsibilities

COOs work with CEOs and CFOs to create and maintain operating budgets. You must ensure that you have the available capital to meet growing medical demands. COOs orchestrate and implement new business strategies while maintaining tight budgetary guidelines. You must find ways to cut costs and enhance revenues, so you have the funds to support medical advancements. For example, you might negotiate contracts with physicians, research low-cost medical suppliers and strategize fundraising or revenue-producing community events.

Job Requirements

To apply for a job as a hospital COO, you need an advanced degree, such as a master of business administration, a master of health administration, a master of public health or a medical doctor degree. Most hospitals also want to hire a COO who has a minimum of 10 years of experience as a senior executive of a profitable hospital or business, according to Modern Healthcare. You must have experience in financial management, business development, program planning, process improvements and contract negotiations. Strong interpersonal skills, such as the ability to communicate information clearly and interact positively with a diverse group of people, are essential. Public speaking and the ability to conduct employee and stakeholder meetings are required.

About the Author

As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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