Project Management in Healthcare: Definition and Stages

Updated March 10, 2023

Project management in healthcare helps a medical facility run smoothly. To be a healthcare project manager, it's important for you to design and manage the phases of a project. If you're passionate about helping others and organizing tasks, then this may be the ideal position for you to pursue. In this article, we explore the purpose and stages of project management in healthcare and how to become a healthcare project manager.

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What is project management in healthcare?

Project management in healthcare is an organizational process that improves how medical facilities function. Its purpose is to resolve issues in the current operations and implement policies that enhance patient care and foster positive relationships with stakeholders. Effective project management can strengthen the following areas:

  • Communication: A healthcare project manager emphasizes clear and thorough communication between medical staff, such as doctors and nurses, and encounters between physicians and patients. Managers also ensure hospital administrators have updated patient and insurance information to maintain health records and keep the workplace organized.

  • Productivity: Increased productivity can help a hospital run more efficiently and handle an influx of patients during a healthcare emergency. Project management delegates tasks to staff members and evaluates their work performance.

  • Allocation of resources: Another aspect of project management is budgeting. Managers monitor organizational spending habits and dedicate funds to certain departments. For example, oncologists may need to gain approval from healthcare managers to fund a clinical trial for cancer research.

Stages of project management

The project management process undergoes four stages, including:


Healthcare project managers determine the purpose and extent of the project. They perform cost estimation, which predicts the financial resources the project may require, and they anticipate challenges and prepare solutions to solve them. Once the initiation stage is complete, the managers send their strategies to organizational leaders for approval.


The planning phase outlines every task of the project. The managers establish deadlines for the completion of each task and the professional responsible for finishing it. They also finalize the budget, which dictates the equipment they need and the time they have to accomplish their goals without wasting resources.


The execution of the project involves working on the assigned tasks and monitoring the progress of the project. Challenges may occur during this stage, and managers modify their objectives as needed, which may require additional approval from supervisors or stakeholders.


When the project is complete, managers evaluate the success of their efforts and compile information into a document. They can use the document as a reference for future endeavors. Managers also meet with members of their team and organizational leaders to discuss what they did correctly and the areas where they can improve.

Related: Understanding the Project Management Phases

Examples of project management in healthcare

Here are examples of activities project management can produce for healthcare organizations:

Adding a new hospital wing

Hospital stakeholders want their facility to offer neonatal surgical services, requiring a building expansion and a new team of surgical staff members. The healthcare project manager assesses the cost of constructing a new hospital wing and acquiring new medical technology. During the execution stage, they help recruit experienced physicians from around the country to lead the department. Once the wing is operating, the managers track the positive outcomes of neonatal surgery.

Implementing personnel training;

Healthcare project managers determine a need for new employee training for physicians, where doctors and nurses can improve their bedside manner as they communicate with patients and their families. The project begins with reviewing the cost of hiring a consultant to conduct the training and reserving time for teaching sessions. Next, the managers adapt to physicians' busy schedules so every medical staff member can attend the training session.

Replacing the beds in hospital rooms

Administrators at a small-town hospital receive feedback from patients about discomfort on the hospital beds. The healthcare project manager creates a cost-effective plan to replace every bed in the facility. They propose buying a brand of mattresses that relieve back pain and stabilize a patient's spine, making it more comfortable for patients and safer for their post-operation recoveries.

Skills for healthcare project managers

Healthcare project managers are the professionals who oversee the stages of improving a hospital's operations. They use soft skills to perform well in their role. If you're interested in being a healthcare project manager, it may be helpful to strengthen abilities such as:


Leadership is fundamental to the healthcare project manager role, and it can manifest in ways, such as:

  • Motivating medical staff: Managers build productive relationships with everyone who works at the hospital. They learn the areas where their employees are proficient and assign tasks that align with those strengths. When there is confusion, managers clarify their ideas and remind team members of the hospital's mission.

  • Creating a positive work environment: Part of the managerial position might include getting employees accustomed to changes. If professionals sense a decrease in morale, then they strive to improve the mood in the workplace and address concerns for their employees.

  • Making challenging decisions: Healthcare project managers can compromise with organizational leaders and decide how to proceed when conflict is present.

Related: Project Management: The Different Levels and Responsibilities of Project Manager Roles


As healthcare project managers execute their missions, efficient problem-solving skills allow them to identify issues and resolve them. They can remain calm when unforeseen circumstances emerge, such as a cut in organizational budget or malfunctioning medical instruments. They can also find the source of a problem and direct members of their team to handle an unexpected situation.


The environment of a medical facility experiences constant changes, which is why healthcare project managers need to adapt so they can maintain their productivity. Here are examples of circumstances where professionals may adjust their work approach:

  • Health emergencies: During Flu Season, for example, hospital operations might require stricter protocol to protect patients and medical staff from getting sick. Healthcare project managers can adhere to the protocol and provide direction to prevent the spread of illnesses.

  • Personnel changes: An influx of new employees can alter the workflow in a facility. Managers understand how to train new personnel and keep them informed about policies.

  • Budget adjustments: When a hospital adjusts its budget, the equipment and staff scheduling may change. Managers can devise a way to save money while prioritizing quality patient care.

Interpersonal communication

Interpersonal skills enable healthcare project managers to interact with multiple professionals from different backgrounds. It's essential for them to provide their recommendations in ways their audience can understand. For example, conversations with physicians may require a communication style that differs from conversations with insurance providers.

How to become a healthcare project manager

To pursue a career as a healthcare project manager, consider taking the following actions:

1. Gain a college education

A bachelor's degree is the minimum education requirement for healthcare project managers. It's necessary for you to gain knowledge on how medical facilities operate and the terminology physicians use when caring for patients. Disciplines these professionals may study in college include:

  • Health administration

  • Public health administration

  • Business administration

  • Nursing

  • Economics

2. Earn a master's degree

Consider earning a master's degree to specialize your industry knowledge and expose you to more employment opportunities. For example, if you have an undergraduate degree in business administration or economics, then it may be helpful to earn an advanced degree in a subject related to medicine. Likewise, if you have an undergraduate degree in nursing, then you can study health administration in your master's program, which can allow you to build leadership skills necessary for your desired role.

Related: 6 Jobs for Healthcare Management MBA Graduates

3. Work in a clinical role

Professional experience in the medical field can prepare you for the position of a healthcare project manager. Consider seeking entry-level positions to learn about the industry and build your professional network. For example, you can work as a healthcare administrator, where you can process paperwork for patients and organize the admittance and discharge process. Some degree programs may require students to complete clinical internships before graduation, another way to work in the field.

Read more: How To Become a Healthcare Administration Assistant: Steps and Tips

4. Pursue a project management certification

Although an endorsement isn't a requirement for the position, being a certified healthcare project manager can boost your qualifications and appeal as a job candidate. The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers three professional certifications:

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM): Candidates need a high school diploma or associate degree to become CAPM certified, as well as the completion of 23 hours of project management coursework.

  • Project Management Professional (PMP): The PMP endorsement requires a bachelor's degree and 36 months of project experience. You also need to have 35 hours of project management training or a CAPM certification.

  • Program Management Professional (PgMP): To be PgMP certified, candidates need a four-year degree or PMP endorsement, and six years of project management experience.

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Salary and job outlook of healthcare project managers

On average, healthcare project managers earn $64,084 per year. Though, your salary can depend on the city and state of your employer and the size of the organization. Certain parts of the country have a higher cost of living, which may cause a higher salary. Also, healthcare project managers may earn higher incomes at metropolitan hospitals than they would at an urgent care clinic.

The profession may increase by 32% from 2019 to 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. As people continue to grow older, they may seek medical attention at hospitals, increasing the demand for healthcare project managers.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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