Health care providers could not manage a daily practice without the help of a skilled medical office assistant.
What does a Medical Office Assistant Do?
Medical office assistant duties begin when the patient first walks into the office, clinic, or hospital.
They work with a patient every step of the way to help their medical visit run smoothly. The medical office assistant welcomes the patient to the office. It is important that the reception and front desk area are welcoming. They greet patients, take contact and insurance information and schedule appointments.
The medical office assistant is also tasked with many behind the scenes duties. They can wear many hats. Accountant, billing, and insurance clerk and medical records technician are common duties. They might also inventory, track, and order medical and office supplies. Medical office assistants often deal with confidential information about patients. The ability to keep things private is essential. Confidential information should be private among those treating the patient.
Where do Medical Office Assistants Work?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical office assistant duties can change depending on if you work in a hospital, clinic, or private office.
Hospital-based work can be clinical or administrative in nature. In a clinical setting, medical office assistant duties involve more direct care.
In a clinical setting, medical office assistant duties involve more direct care. Tasks might include:
- Perform basic lab tests
- Sterilize medical instruments and equipment
- Inform patients about medication or special diets
- Prepare patients for tests or x rays
- Change dressings
In an administrative role, the medical office assistant may again work behind the scenes.
They might fill out insurance forms, take information about patients, and schedule patients over the phone. In larger settings, like hospitals, work is often even more specialized. An assistant may work only on one aspect such as accounting. Another may only work with record keeping, and still another with insurance billing.
A medical office assistant usually works full time. Many hospitals and urgent care clinics that are open 24 hours have opportunities for evening, weekend, and holiday shifts.
What Skills Do Medical Office Assistants Need?
Helpful skills to develop for those interested in work as a medical office assistant can be:
- Analytical skills. It is necessary to understand and follow medical charts and diagnoses.
- Detail-oriented precision and technical skills. These skills are needed to take and record critical patient information and vital signs like blood pressure and heart rate.
- Excellent interpersonal skills. It is a must to enjoy working with people. Also important is the ability to maintain a calm and professional demeanor around patients in emergency situations and under stress.
A recent trend is in the medical field is the move to Electronic Health Records (EHR’s). Computer skills are more important than ever for a medical office assistant. Doctors, clinics and hospitals are all working to move patient information from paper to electronic files. Knowledge of EHR software is a skill that can only make you more competitive.
In the complex world of health care today, Medical Assistants are invaluable.
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