Managing Health Services: Concepts and Practice

Subject: Administration and Regulation
Pages: 6
Words: 1642
Reading time:
6 min


The book Managing Health Services: Concepts and Practice written by Mary Harris (2005) are aimed at examining the functioning of medical institutions and their employees. The author of this book is a researcher who studies the work of healthcare organizations and the interactions between different professionals who care about the patients. This textbook is primarily intended for learners who may become health service managers or administrators. One can say that the questions discussed by Mary Harris (2005) are closely related to the concepts discussed during the course. For instance, one can refer to the textbook Introduction to Health Services written by Stephen Williams and Paul Torrens (2008) who look at different elements of the healthcare system and their peculiarities. Overall, it is possible to say that Mary Harris’ book can give readers deep insights into the work of healthcare organizations; moreover, it can offer valuable guidelines to future administrators and managers who need to coordinate the work of many professionals. This is why this book can be considered by students and teachers.

The contents of the book

In her book, Mary Harris discusses a great number of issues that are relevant to health service managers. For instance, the author pays close attention to organizational change in medical institutions, risk management strategies, the role of health service managers, quality control, performance appraisal, teamwork, and exchange of information (Harris, 2005). Each of these questions has become the subject of many studies. Additionally, Mary Harris discusses various research methods that can be used to examine the work of healthcare organizations (Harris, 2005, p. 429). She also examines the responsibility and accountability of administrators working in medical institutions (Harris, 2005). By discussing these questions, Mary Harris demonstrates that the knowledge of management and administration can greatly benefit healthcare organizations. This textbook can be viewed as a survey of organizational issues that health service managers should be able to address. Although, Marry Harris focuses on a broad set of questions; however, her discussions are rather detailed and informative. This is one of the reasons why this textbook has been chosen among others.

Analysis of the text

When analyzing this work, one should pay close attention to its organization and structure. This book consists of eighteen chapters, and each chapter of the book has certain learning objectives that identify the knowledge and skills that a reader should acquire. Overall, these objectives help the readers focus on their most important concepts, questions, or ideas (Harris, 2005, p. 1). It seems that this element of organization can greatly benefit learners. Secondly, this textbook incorporates bullet points, tables, and diagrams that facilitate the reading process. These visual aids can highlight the most important ideas of the text and identify the connections between them. It is also important to note that at the end of each chapter there are discussion questions that can help students test their understanding of the material. They are also vital for the development of a learner’s critical skills and analytical thinking. Moreover, this textbook includes various case studies illustrating the strategies of hospitals or problems that managers have to resolve daily. In this way, the author attempts to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Overall, readers can easily follow the structure of the book and understand the main ideas of the author. Therefore, Mary Harris’s book is organized in a way that can suit the needs of learners who should have a systematic knowledge of managerial issues emerging in healthcare organizations.

The writing style of the author is persuasive, technical, and logical. Mary Harris takes into account that some of the readers may not be familiar with specific terms or abbreviations that can be used by healthcare professionals. For example, she can use the terms that are related to the work of medical institutions, but she takes time to explain a certain concept. Moreover, the writer explains every abbreviation used in the paper such as NHMRC or National Health and Medical Research Council (Harris, 2005, p. 55). This is why this book can meet the needs of people who do not have in-depth knowledge of healthcare organizations. Overall, in this way, Mary Harris ensures that readers can do not have any problems in understanding her book. It seems that this is a definite strength of this work.

It should also be noted that in her book Mary Harris provides plenty of evidence to substantiate her arguments. For example, she refers to empirical studies that examine various factors contributing to medical errors (Harris, 2005, p. 413). Additionally, she refers to the research conducted by other scholars who study the cause of high turnover in medical organizations. The data included in this textbook was collected from a governmental organization or leading research centers. Each chapter of the book includes a reference list of the sources that were used by the author (Harris, 2005). By relying on empirical evidence, Mary Harris makes her arguments and recommendations more convincing. One can see that the recommendations offered by the author are based on verified information, rather than only logical reasons and conjectures. This issue is of great importance to students who want to know about the best practices adopted and tested in healthcare organizations. Overall, Mary Harris offers a comprehensive and detailed discussion of different managerial issues that emerge in medical institutions. This is why this work is worth attention.

To a great extent, Mary Harris’ book supplements the textbook Introduction to Health Services by Stephen Williams and Paul Torrens (2008). Overall, Stephen Williams and Paul Torrens focus on a variety of questions, for example, the peculiarities of healthcare in the United States, the financing of medical organizations, the pharmaceutical industry, and the development of healthcare policies (Williams & Torrens, 2008, p. 6). Furthermore, this textbook is closely related to the ethical aspects of healthcare, the use of technologies in medical institutions, financial performance, and the future development of the healthcare system (Williams & Torrens, 2008). So, these authors focus a broad scope of questions related to healthcare and these issues are important for understanding the work of medical institutions. In her turn, Mary Harris looks at medical organizations from a managerial perspective. She focuses on the interaction between various professionals. For instance, the author explains how the work of healthcare teams should be organized and how leaders can improve decision-making within such teams (Harris, 2005, p. 135). Furthermore, this book explains how performance appraisal methods can use in healthcare organizations (Harris, 2005). Additionally, the writer discusses the cooperation between medical institutions and how administrators can foster this cooperation. Finally, this scholar examines the mechanisms of organizational change in medical institutions. It seems that the knowledge of these questions is important for medical workers, especially those who will be managing the activities of other people. Overall, Mary Harris’ work can supplement the textbook used during the classes. Besides, Mary Harris gives guidelines to future managers and administrators who should know the work of healthcare professionals can be best organized.


It is possible to discuss the positive and negative aspects of the book. One of its key strengths is the availability of discussion questions in each chapter. They can be of great assistance to teachers who can prompt students to express their views about the issues mentioned in the textbook. They also enable students to test their knowledge of the learning material and put themselves in the position of experienced professionals. Secondly, the availability of case studies can also appeal to readers. They help students to see how their knowledge be used for practical purposes. As it has been said before, Marry Harris makes sure that her writing style can be understood by people who do not know much about the work of medical institutions. As it has been noted before, Mary Harris uses a great number of diagrams that highlight the most important ideas or points. These are the main strengths of this work and they can distinguish it among other textbooks.

Nevertheless, there are several limitations of Mary Harris’ work, and one should not overlook them. The case studies are placed at the very end of the book, and they are presented as appendixes. It would have been much better if they had been incorporated into the separate chapters of the book. In this way, one can better highlight the connection between theoretical aspects of the book and its practical applications. It might be necessary to increase the number of discussion questions for each section of the book. Unfortunately, this was not done by the author. Moreover, by looking at the experiences of specific organizations or healthcare administrators, Marry Harris would have made more examples more specific. As it has been said before, the recommendations provided in the textbook are based on empirical evidence, but she does not show how her guidelines can be used to resolve specific problems faced by hospitals. This is one of the limitations that should be taken into account. Nevertheless, these limitations do not undermine the positive aspects of this work, and they can offer readers useful guidelines to health service managers. This is one of the main arguments that can be made.


On the whole, Managing Health Services: Concepts and Practice by Mary Harris can be of great interest to students and teachers. This work demonstrates how the knowledge of business administration and management should be applied to hospitals or other medical institutions. This textbook can be considered by people who want to work as administrators in healthcare organizations. Overall, the information that Mary Harris provides can be quite valuable to readers can be both students and teachers. This source can be used as a supplement to other textbooks that are used for the education of administrators and health service managers. Certainly, this is not the only academic work that teachers and students can use, but it is still worth attention.

Reference List

Harris, M. (2005). Managing Health Services: Concepts and Practice. Melbourne: Elsevier Australia.

Williams, S. & Torrens, P. (2008). Introduction to Health Services. New York: Cengage Learning.