Medical offices use the latest computer software to streamline their finances. The most popular is QuickBooks, a program that integrates most accounting practices from billing to payroll.
As a medical office assistant, QuickBooks is a tool you need to master for success. Here’s how it works and why you need to learn it to work as a medical office assistant.
What Is QuickBooks?
Introduced by software giant Intuit in 1992, QuickBooks is an all-in-one accounting solution for small businesses. It’s used in medical offices to simplify the accounting process and monitor the financial health of the practice by tracking this data.
- Accounts receivable – money patients owe for services rendered
- Accounts payable – what the doctor owes to creditors and vendors
- Assets – measurable resources
- Liabilities – a practice’s financial obligations
- Revenue – the total amount of money doctors receive before expenses are paid
- Expenses – bills the provider must pay to generate revenue
- Equity – how much a practice is worth, or assets minus liabilities
Data entered into the system once can be used to complete a range of tasks, from invoicing and inventory management to tracking payments and expenses. Accounts can be reconciled monthly with a few clicks, and at year’s end, all the information a medical practice needs to file its taxes is complete. QuickBooks is an invaluable timesaver.
How Does a Medical Office Assistant Use QuickBooks?
QuickBooks helps medical office assistants manage their practice’s financial responsibilities and enhance profitability. As a medical office assistant, you may not utilize some of its advanced functions, but you’ll use many of its features based on your job description, doing tasks like these.
QuickBooks tracks all charges and payments to patients’ accounts. When a patient checks in, the data you enter generates an open invoice. When the patient leaves, payments entered are deducted from the account so that at any given time you can inform the patient about an overdue balance.
If insurance reimbursement later results in a credit, QuickBooks tracks that, too, so the practice can send the patient a check at the end of the month.
Medical office assistants are often responsible for ordering supplies. QuickBooks makes it easy to track inventory in real time.
For example, when a patient checks out after having stitches removed, a suture removal kit is automatically deducted from inventory. You can monitor levels of vital supplies from a central dashboard. QuickBooks will notify you when quantities are low, so you can reorder without doing time-consuming manual counts.
Forget the piles of paper invoices. QuickBooks tracks bills electronically. Enter invoice details for accounts payable, and let the software track when payments are due. You’ll get a timely reminder as the payment date approaches so the practice can remit on time without paying too early. Verify the amount due, print a check, and the balance automatically reflects the payment.
Assist Human Resources
QuickBooks is the ultimate employee expense tracker. Medical practices use it to monitor work hours and reimbursable employee expenses.
For example, when clinical staff members are required to attend continuing education classes, you can cut them a check to cover their time, seminar and parking fees, plus mileage reimbursement. QuickBooks allows you to write notes detailing what each expense was for.
At the end of the fiscal year, accountants use the annual totals to offset the medical practice’s taxes. Human resource managers use them to monitor continuing education hours.
Run Financial Reports
The beauty of accounting software is that you can pull financial data from it on demand. For example, a doctor can see which services offered are profitable and which are not.
Medical office assistants may run a range of financial reports to help a medical practice understand its revenue and spending patterns. A cash flow report, for example, allows medical office managers to know if the practice has enough money to pay its bills and purchase a high-priced piece of medical equipment.
QuickBooks categorizes expenses by category, so a medical office assistant can tell at a glance how much the practice spends on supplies. If you’re responsible for ordering, you can compare actual expenditures to yearly spending goals and adjust requests to help you meet targets.
The Inventory Valuation Summary Report also lets you compare the average cost the practice has been paying for specific supplies, so you can detect cost increases and shift to different vendors or negotiate better terms.
What Skills Are Needed to Manage QuickBooks?
QuickBooks is designed for users without an accounting background, and anyone can learn to use it, but it helps to have specific technical and soft skills. Employers are looking for well-rounded staff who can operate QuickBooks and have the expertise to troubleshoot issues.
The good news for Medical Office Administration students is vocational schools teach these skills.
Skill 1—Technical Literacy
Getting the most out of software like QuickBooks requires knowing how it integrates with computer hardware and associated devices. In most versions of QuickBooks, you can use a scanner to enter paper invoices into the system. You’ll also use printers to create reports and checks, so being comfortable with office equipment takes the stress out of the process.
QuickBooks also allows users to import financial data directly from banks and participating vendors, so expertise with email and security for electronic devices is essential. If your practice has a dedicated vehicle, QuickBooks’ mobile app connects to the GPS and measures the distances traveled. Knowing how to integrate web, mobile, and desktop applications is a plus.
Skill 2—Attention to Detail
Computer software takes most human error out of accounting. Still, the quality of the reports it produces directly reflects the accuracy of the data entered. If it’s error in, it’s error out.
The software cues users to correct obvious mistakes, such as a letter entered in a field that requires a numeric value. But transcription errors, such as transposed numbers or missing decimal points, don’t look like errors, so attention to detail is critical.
Skill 3—Accounting Skills
QuickBooks simplifies finances, but like all software, it does only what it’s programmed to do. The software is flexible, so users have to guide the system to perform tasks as needed. Having a background in accounting helps put you in charge of the process, not the computer.
Skill 4—Math Skills
QuickBooks’ mission is to take the misery out of business finances, but if you have math skills, you’ll be better able to catch and fix data entry errors before they affect final tallies.
Anyone can make a transcription error, so users should review account balances and question totals that aren’t reasonable when printing reports. If the average practice revenue of $50,000 monthly suddenly drops to $500, chances are the figure is based on faulty data.
A background in advanced math isn’t necessary to succeed with QuickBooks, but familiarity with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and percentages is critical. QuickBooks features a handy calculator and adding machine.
Skill 5—Critical Thinking
Critical thinking is the ability to research facts and come to logical conclusions. By definition, computer programs are logic-based, so being able to think critically and reason deductively helps you better understand the software’s capabilities and limitations.
As a medical office assistant, you’ll be managing front office tasks, so it’s essential to know where QuickBooks fits into the big picture and how it can be used to improve productivity. Whenever a new financial process is created in the office, medical office assistants should ask how QuickBooks can be harnessed to optimize it.
Where Do You Learn the Skills to Manage QuickBooks?
QuickBooks is just one part of how practices manage their finances, so it’s important to learn it in the right context. Anyone can take a QuickBooks course online, but a vocational school medical office assistant program teaches you the software and how to use it specifically in a medical office setting.
You’ll also learn supporting skills, including accounting. On a résumé, there’s really no substitute for a diploma. Employers know graduates are ready to hit the ground running.
Managing finances is among a medical practice’s most significant challenges. With the right users, QuickBooks solves this problem by streamlining accounting practices.
If you’re ready to explore the world of finance with this unique software, a vocational school medical office assistant program can teach you everything you need to know. The skills you gain will continue to be relevant as you grow into your rewarding new career.
Interested in using QuickBooks as a medical office assistant? Ready for an exciting new career in a medical office?
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.
Through a blend of classroom instruction and practical hands-on training, 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, and billing and coding.
Contact us today to find out more about how to become a medical office assistant on Long Island.