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Why Do Medical Office Administrators Need to Know Anatomy?

Are you interested in becoming a medical office administrator but not sure why you need to learn anatomy? While it is true that you will not perform clinical duties during your job, you will need to know anatomy to properly complete your medical office tasks. So, what is anatomy and physiology?

What is Anatomy and Physiology?

While enrolled in a medical office administration program, you will receive valuable instruction in a variety of topics. Included in the curriculum is anatomy and physiology, specifically medical terminology.

Anatomy and Physiology

Anatomy is how the body is made, and physiology is how the body works. These two subjects focus on the study of how the eleven body systems interact and function. It is important for a medical office administrator to understand the basics of anatomy and physiology when managing insurance claims and patient files. Additional coursework focuses on medical terminology.

Medical Terminology

During the course of work as a medical office administrator, you will come across many medical terms that you must understand and code properly. Instead of memorizing medical terminology, vocational programs teach you how to decipher medical terms within their roots, suffixes, and prefixes. Breaking down a medical term will help you understand the different parts of the whole term and assist you during billing, patient filing and other tasks as a medical office administrator.

Why Do Medical Office Administrators Need to Know Anatomy?

Medical office administrators don’t make clinical decisions, yet everything they do requires an understanding of how the body is made. Without an anatomy course, reading through charts to identify the health information necessary to process medical bills and fill out insurance claims would be difficult.

What Type of Anatomy Does a Medical Office Administrator Need to Learn?

Medical office administrators don’t need in-depth anatomy courses like doctors do because they don’t use the medical information to make life and death decisions. The course helps medical office administrators find their way around a chart by covering the eleven body systems, coding protocols and other anatomical terminology. As a student, you will learn about the:

11 Body Systems

From the muscular system to the immune system and everything in between, knowing the eleven body systems allow you to properly manage patient files, schedule medical appointments and process medical bills. Knowing medical terminology is an important aspect of the medical office administrator’s job.

Cardiovascular System – made up of the heart and blood vessels, the cardiovascular system helps the body circulate blood and oxygen to the muscles and organs within the human body.

Muscular System – composed of muscle fibers, the muscular system works in conjunction with the skeletal system to move the body. The muscles are attached to the bones, organs and blood vessels that are responsible for movement.

Digestive System – made up of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, and anus, which helps the human body digest food. Digestion releases nutrients for the body to stay healthy.

Endocrine System – a network of glands that make hormones to help the body’s cells talk. The hormones control the body’s mood, growth, metabolism, organs, and reproduction.

Integumentary System – made up of skin, hypodermis, glands, hair, and nails. The integumentary system helps protect the body from external pathogens.

Immune System – protects the body from bacteria, viruses, and other toxins. Also, helps the body fight infections and other diseases. The immune system is made up of the body’s skin, mucous membranes, white blood cells, and the organs of the lymph system.

Nervous System – runs from the brain, down the spinal cord through nerves and ganglia. This is how the brain can control, regulate, and communicate with the body.

Urinary System – filters the blood and excretes urine as a waste by-product. The urinary system is made up of the kidneys, renal pelvis, ureters, bladder, and urethra.

Reproductive System – the system of the body that helps produce offspring.

Respiratory System – a network of organs and tissues that helps the body breathe. The respiratory system is made up of the airway, lungs, and blood vessels. They work together to move oxygen throughout the body and clean out the waste gas carbon dioxide.

Skeletal System – consists of bones, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. The bones allow the human body to stand upright and help protect the soft organs of the body. The skeletal system works along with the muscles to help the body to move.

Coding Protocols

There are three main coding protocols that you will learn during a medical office administrator program. They include ICD-10, CPT and HCPCS.

ICD-10 Codes – one of the oldest coding systems in the world. Short for the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision, codes are alphanumeric and have been used globally since 1977 to classify every disease, injury or symptom known to medicine.

CPT Codes – or Common Procedural Code, is a five-digit numeric sequence assigned to all medical, surgical, or diagnostic procedures. Developed by the American Medical Association and updated annually, CPT codes are used for both reimbursement and to gather data on treatment outcomes that are used to evaluate quality of care.

HCPCS Codes – or Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System, is a two-level alphanumeric system explicitly developed for CMS. Level I is the CPT index. Level II is a separate system that codes medical products from pharmaceuticals and prostheses to services such as anesthesia and radiology. There are 17 categories and counting, updates may occur as often as every six months.

Anatomical Terminology

The SEER Training Modules offered by the National Cancer Institute, will shed some light on the anatomical terminology that will help you during your duties as a medical office administrator. These terms will help with note transcription, patient file management and insurance claim processing. These anatomical terms include:

Directional Terms – describe the position of body structures relative to the location on the body.

  • Superior or Cranial – structure positioned toward the head end of the body.
  • Inferior or Caudal – structure positioned away from the head.
  • Anterior or Ventral – laying flat on the back
  • Posterior or Dorsal – laying on the stomach with the head facing down
  • Medial – structure positioned toward the midline of the body
  • Lateral – structure positioned away from the midline of the body
  • Proximal – positioned to the point of origin
  • Distal – positioned away from the point of origin.

Planes of the Body – describes the planes of the body from top to bottom and side to side.

  • Coronal Plane – vertical plane from side to side that divides the body into anterior and posterior portions.
  • Sagittal Plane – vertical plane from front to back that divides the body into left and right sides.
  • Axial Plane – horizontal plane that divides the body into upper and lower parts
  • Median Plane – sagittal plane through the midline of the body that divides it into right and left halves.

Body Cavities – spaces of the body that contain internal organs

  • Thoracic Cavity – the chest cavity contains the heart, lungs, trachea, esophagus, large blood vessels and nerves.
  • Abdominal Cavity – contains the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and adrenal glands
  • Pelvic Cavity – contains the urogenital system and rectum.
  • Dorsal Cavity – made up of the cranial cavity that houses the brain and the vertebral canal which includes the spinal cord.

How Do You Become a Medical Office Administrator?

An easy way to become a medical office administrator is by attending a vocational school program. Although you can start working as a medical office administrator without a diploma, the job market is becoming much more competitive. With a diploma, you show your new employer that you are serious about your role on the medical team. They will also be able to save money on basic training and you may find yourself enjoying a better hiring package as a graduate of a diploma program.

What are the Benefits of a Formal Education?

There are many benefits of a formal education. From a complete curriculum to lots of real-world practice, with a formal education you are ready to start working on day one. Some of the more important benefits include.

A Complete Curriculum

Those that choose to learn on the job, may be at a disadvantage. Learning the role this way may leave a lot of knowledge gaps in their understanding of how a medical office works, the terminology needed to understand and the coding protocols that they must adhere to while they process patient files, manage billing, and support the medical office staff.

Industry Experienced Instructors

Another great benefit of a formal education is having someone to mentor you through the learning process that has been in your shoes. The instructors know what you need to succeed in a medical office and can offer the proper guidance, so no one is left behind. Enjoy one-on-one attention and have all your questions answered to fully understand the curriculum.

Real World Experience

A great benefit of a formal education is all the practice you get performing your duties as a medical office administrator. You will work on industry standard computers and use the same software that you will find a real doctor’s office. You will master Microsoft Office programs to help manage correspondence, help with light bookkeeping, and create leaflets for the medical facility. Practice makes perfect, and you will get a lot of practice in this medical office administrator diploma program.


In addition to all the experience, you will also participate in an externship in a real medical facility. You will shadow your counterpart under the strict supervision of a doctor or nurse. This offers you a real-world view of the medical office administrator job, allowing you to choose the right medical facility to work at.

Career Services

The best benefit of a formal education is the career services you will enjoy. From building a solid resume to preparing for interviews, the career services staff will help you prepare for the workforce and identify jobs that fit your passion.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know anatomy is important to become a successful medical office administrator, take the time to learn more about the program offered by Interactive College of Technology. Take the first step toward a new career and learn more about our medical office administration program 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 Administrators 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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