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Why are Medical Office Administrators Important?

Of the millions of healthcare workers in the United States, only a fraction are hands-on caregivers. For every doctor, nurse and diagnostic technician, an allied health professional is working behind the scenes. Medical office administrators are among the most essential. They keep offices running smoothly by managing a broad range of financial and recordkeeping tasks in medical facilities. If you want a healthcare career but prefer a mostly non-clinical role, there’s never been a better time to join their ranks.

Are Medical Office Administrators Important?

Healthcare visits begin and end with an administrative component. The front-office staff collaborates with the back-office team to handle non-clinical duties so licensed professionals can devote their time to direct patient care. Medical office administrators are the keys to effective care.

Why Are Medical Office Administrators Important?

Healthcare is a science, an art, and a business. Medical office administrators handle the business end by directing workflow from check-in to payment. Without them, healthcare comes to a standstill. Medical office administrators support patients, providers, and peers by:

Maintaining a Safe and Comfortable Waiting Area

Making patients comfortable is the key to their satisfaction. Yet post-hospitalization surveys suggest that medical professionals are less attentive to hospitality than they should be.

Patients are less confident in their care when it’s cold and dispassionate, so creating a friendly and accommodating environment is critical. As a medical office administrator, the hospitality you extend on behalf of the clinical team makes guests feel valued.

Answering Telephone Calls

Medical office administrators take phone calls, answering questions or directing clinical inquiries to the appropriate providers. They’re the friendly and knowledgeable voices patients want to hear when they call healthcare facilities.

Managing the Schedule

Scheduling appointments in a thousand-patient practice is easier said than done. The goal is to keep the clinical staff busy but not overwhelmed while providing quality care.

You’ll juggle a hectic and ever-changing schedule, managing cancellations and accommodating urgent care. You’ll also set up appointments for diagnostic tests and surgical procedures at outside facilities on the patient’s behalf.

Greeting Patients

How patients are greeted sets the stage for their visit. A big smile and a warm hello establish a personal connection and help build rapport. Sick patients are often emotionally vulnerable and confused about the complexities of the healthcare system. Medical office administrators serve as guides, helping them navigate stressful experiences.

Updating Medical Records

Reviewing patient demographic and insurance details is part of the check-in process at every visit. Medical office administrators verify, enter, and secure the data, giving providers the most accurate information upon which to base treatment decisions and bill for services rendered.

Billing and Coding

Medical office administrators create superbills, itemized forms describing the care patients receive. Initiated at check-in, clinicians check off services as they’re rendered. Working with the billing department, you’ll use the information to complete claims forms, track payments, and assist with invoicing.

Recordkeeping

There is  2,300 exabytes of medical data stored annually, according to Health IT Today. Each byte must be carefully filed and properly secured. Medical office administrators collect, correct, enter, and store data so it can be accessed and shared efficiently. You’ll be responsible for both paper files and electronic health records (EHR).

How Do You Become a Medical Office Administrator?

Becoming a medical office administrator is as easy as completing a vocational school program. You’ll graduate with the skills required for an entry-level position in any healthcare setting.

Interactive College of Technology’s program offer 135 hours of real-world experience in a healthcare facility, so you’ll have an opportunity to practice what you learn while preparing for CMAA or CEHRS certification. While you don’t need to be certified to work as a medical office administrator, it’s a stepping-stone to faster professional development.

Just choose your pathway. Certification as a Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) is ideal for the jack-of-all-trades who wants to be a generalist. Becoming a Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist (CEHRS) is perfect for the data-oriented graduate who wants to work in health informatics or a medical records department.

Or to impress an employer, seek both. Vocational school instructors prepare you for the exams. Their reputation is built on your success, so they take your education seriously.

What Do You Learn During a Medical Office Administration Program?

Medical administration programs teach the common administrative practices used in today’s healthcare facilities. Geared toward beginners, the curriculum covers the following:

Appointment Scheduling

Medical office administration programs teach students the principles of effective scheduling and how to use computerized scheduling software. You’ll learn how to make appointments within your facility and how to schedule referrals, surgical procedures, hospital admissions, and diagnostic tests with outside providers.

Other topics include the ethical questions inherent to scheduling, such as who deserves priority care, and how to handle waiting room emergencies. You’ll learn how to monitor people for signs of distress, what constitutes an emergency, and when to seek immediate medical attention. You never know when someone in the waiting room has a life-threatening medical condition.

Greeting Patients

Medical settings are different than average businesses. First impressions matter more because of the life-or-death nature of healthcare. Training programs teach you to approach patients successfully through proven communication techniques. You’ll learn how to manage workflow by handling encounters efficiently. The schedule and the success of the practice depends on how you move patients through the queue.

Medical Billing and Coding

Most medical bills nationwide are covered by insurers. The process isn’t complicated, but it’s painstaking. Companies want huge amounts of data upon which to make coverage decisions. Coding streamlines the process by assigning alphanumeric codes to symptoms, diagnoses, medical equipment, and surgical procedures.

You’ll learn about these three coding systems:

ICD-10 – the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition, is the world’s oldest coding system. Developed in 18th-century Britain, it’s been used since 1977 to classify symptoms, diseases, and injuries. The alphanumeric codes are used for billing and public health surveillance. Doctors enter ICD codes on the superbill medical office administrators create.

CPT – Common Procedural Terminology Code, is a five-digit number system assigned to surgical and diagnostic procedures. Created by the American Medical Association, they’re used for billing and evaluating treatment outcomes.

HCPCS – the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System, was designed exclusively for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Level I is the CPT codes. Level II addresses 17 categories of medical equipment and ancillary services, such as anesthesia, ambulance transport, or infusion therapy.

HIPAA, OSHA, and JCAHO

Healthcare is regulated to protect the public. Medical office administrators must be familiar with the legislation and agencies that govern the industry: HIPAA, OSHA, and JCAHO.

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. A federal law since 1996, HIPPA governs how private medical information is shared, stored, and secured. Compliance is a serious issue for healthcare facilities. Violations are subject to hefty fines. HIPAA rules are one of the reasons that few employers offer on-the-job training for administrative staff. It’s safer to hire vocational school graduates with proven skills.

OSHA, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, oversees workplace safety. They have a significant presence in healthcare facilities because of the above-average occupational risks. Medical office administrators don’t have clinical roles, yet they may still be exposed to electrical, biological, and radiological hazards.

JCAHO, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. Founded in 1910, they develop and enforce quality standards across all accredited healthcare facilities.

Whether you work in a hospital, clinic, rehabilitation center, or private practice, much of what you’ll do as a medical office administrator reflects JCAHO’s work. When you send away medical equipment for calibration, for example, you’re helping JCAHO make healthcare safer.

Customer Relations

Medical office administrators are frontline customer support specialists. They interact with patients from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Healthcare employees are asked to set aside their personal views in favor of a patient-centered approach. It’s not always easy, but a vocational school program will give you the necessary tools to work with patients confidently.

Topics include how to deal with angry or emotional patients in person or on the telephone. You’ll learn about conflict resolution and how to defuse confrontations through de-escalation techniques.

You’ll also learn about hospitality and how creating a welcoming and comfortable waiting area contributes to patient satisfaction. If you can’t make the process faster, making it more pleasant helps patients feel relaxed.

Final Thoughts

Medical office administrators don’t have glamorous jobs, but they do they have necessary and rewarding careers. As the healthcare industry grows, so will your opportunities. Learn more about Interactive College of Technology and how we can help you become a medical office administrator today.

Want to Learn More?

All healthcare facilities, from hospitals and physician’s offices, to rehab centers, clinics, and every other type of medical practice, rely on skilled Medical Office Administration program to function. We’ll train you on a wide range of medical administrative practices and processes. Plus, you’ll get real-world experience through a 135-hour school externship in an actual healthcare facility. You’ll also interact with people from all walks of life, making your daily routine anything but dull.

So, let’s take the first step together! Contact us now to learn more.

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