The labor market is changing, but the health care field always needs a human touch. With a diploma in Medical Office Administration, you can be a part of a vital and growing industry while also helping others in the process.
Since medical professionals are responsible for the performance of support staff, they prefer to hire educated applicants with proven skills. Candidates with a Medical Office Administration diploma are in high demand.
What Does a Medical Office Specialist Do?
Medical office specialists are logistical experts. They keep medical facilities running smoothly by managing the many clerical tasks necessary for every patient visit. Unlike medical assistants, they have no clinical responsibilities, but everything they do supports the broader mission of providing top-quality health care.
It’s an essential role. As a medical office specialist, your duties will include answering phone calls, managing schedules, greeting patients, updating health information, managing medical records, coding, billing, and filing insurance claims.
Answering Phone Calls
Medical office specialists answer general inquiries about office hours, visit procedures, appointments, and cost. You won’t respond directly to clinical calls, but the training you receive in anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology as part of a diploma program will help you direct questions to the appropriate staff member.
On the phone, you’ll serve as an ambassador of first impressions, ensuring patients feel respected and valued, while keeping them well informed. It’s part of the exceptional customer service required in health care.
Managing the Schedule
Managing the schedule in a doctor’s office is challenging. Both patients and providers have limited availability. Finding a slot when the doctor, the patient, and the necessary equipment are all available is challenging.
Your job is to maintain a schedule that meets patients’ needs and keeps clinical staff busy—a crucial part of generating revenue—all while being prepared for the inevitable emergencies. It’s a juggling act.
Stationed by the front door, one of your most important responsibilities as a medical office specialist is to make patients feel welcome. Visiting the doctor can be an emotional time for physically vulnerable people, but a warm and confident greeting helps disarm fear.
Patients will look to you for help as they navigate a complex health care system. Graduates of vocational school medical office administration diploma programs have all the necessary training and skills to be successful patient advocates.
Updating Health Information
Data errors in health records contribute to medical mistakes and cause unfortunate delays in care. Medical office specialists reduce errors by serving as information checkpoints, confirming demographic details and insurance policy numbers when patients arrive. Doctors then use that information to make the best treatment decisions, seeing as insurance coverage impacts the choices of medications and specialty referrals.
Verifying policy data before submitting claims helps limit costly denials and ensures the practice gets timely reimbursement. Patients are also grateful not to get an unexpected bill.
Medical Records Management
All patient interactions in a hospital or doctor’s office are recorded, and this documentation is essential for continuity of care. Medical office specialists manage both computerized and paper health records, keeping them organized and updated.
As part of a medical office administration diploma program, you’ll learn about electronic recordkeeping systems and the legal concepts that govern their management.
Coding and Billing
Almost all health care is paid for by third parties, but claims must be submitted with enough information for insurers to make a coverage determination. Each diagnosis and service is assigned a standardized alphanumeric code to simplify the process.
Medical office specialists begin the claim coding process before the patient sees the doctor. As a medical office administration diploma student, you’ll receive instruction in coding and common billing procedures.
Filing Insurance Claims
Most insurance claims are filed electronically, but each company has proprietary forms and its own list of rules. You’ll be responsible for data entry and claim submissions for dozens of companies.
In large offices, billing specialists do part of the work, troubleshooting problem claims and following up on denials. But in small practices, you may handle the process from start to finish. It’s a challenging but thought provoking task.
Why Be a Medical Office Administrative Assistant?
Not everyone interested in medicine wants to be a doctor or nurse, but health care is as much a business as it is a science. If you enjoy administration and finance but not the idea of hands-on patient care, getting a diploma in medical office administration might be a good career move.
Your aptitude will help you excel, and you’ll feel gratified knowing that you’re helping others. As part of a team of dedicated professionals, you’ll feel supported and valued, like what you do matters.
Career Options for Medical Office Specialists
Most medical office specialists work in doctors’ offices, but opportunities are expanding as more employers recognize their value. Training programs teach a wide range of skills that are useful in workplaces like doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics, public and private health agencies, and private businesses.
A medical office specialist can tackle any clerical task, but depending on the size of the practice, jobs could encompass just one role, such as scheduling coordinator or records manager.
The best part about working in a medical office is flexibility, so choose from positions that make the most of your talents. With a diploma and experience, there’s room for growth.
Hospitals need medical office specialists to handle the heavy flow of financial and clinical information through their many departments. Hospital job descriptions are more specialized. You’ll likely work in one specific department, and duties will vary. Here are some examples.
Responsibilities involve gathering personal data and insurance information. Since patients coming in through the emergency department may be too ill to fill out paperwork, you’ll often work directly with families.
Each patient encounter generates volumes of health data, all of which must be organized and stored to meet future needs. You’ll be expected to file, retrieve, or store records as needed by doctors, patients, and insurers.
These units provide services ranging from day surgery to urgent care that don’t require an emergency doctor. The routine is similar to that in a private medical practice, but the variety of cases is greater, and they tend to be more serious. The larger the institution, the more diversity in the cases you’ll see.
Responsibilities in an ambulatory care unit include checking in patients, verifying insurance approvals, and collecting copayments. If you like excitement and a fast-paced work environment, consider working in ambulatory care.
Clinics offer a unique opportunity, for those interested in specialty care. While you won’t have a clinical role, your responsibilities still revolve around the clinic’s specialty. If women’s health, urgent care, or pain treatment are a passion, working at a clinic lets you invest your time and emotional capital in something you care about.
Public and Private Health Agencies
Public health agencies provide direct services to patients in their areas. While only private companies bill insurers, recordkeeping is still critical for public health departments. Local agencies offer vaccinations while aiding the CDC to collect coded health data for research and tracking purposes.
Medical office specialists with a knack for organization and statistics will find the work fascinating, but there’s less direct patient contact.
Health care and industry are intertwined. Injuries are costly for businesses, and health insurance remains the single most valuable benefit companies offer their employees.
As a medical office specialist working in a manufacturing plant or other large organization, your responsibilities might include assisting the Human Resources department with Workers’ Compensation claims and health insurance inquires.
Doctors heal the sick, but they can’t do it alone. They need skilled support staff to manage the administrative responsibilities that are as essential to good health as clinical care.
It’s truly a partnership. With enthusiasm and a diploma in Medical Office Administration, you can fill this vital role. It takes just a few short months to train for, but it’s a cost effective investment in your future.
Did learning about what you can do with a Medical Office Administration diploma interest you? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical office field?
The Medical Office Administration program prepares students with the skills and training necessary to provide excellent administrative support while working and playing a key role in running an efficient, productive office in a variety of medical and business environments.
Medical Office Administration program students receive an in-depth education in computer data entry of patient information, patient files, filing systems and records, insurance claim filing, billing, and coding.