Allied health careers are growing much faster than most other jobs, which means that choosing any one of these health care support careers is a smart move. Allied health refers to those jobs that support the work of doctors and nurses, and that includes medical office administrators. These are the health professionals responsible for ensuring medical offices are organized, run smoothly, and that billing, coding, and data are all managed carefully.
A career in medical office administration is a great choice if you want a lucrative, stable career that helps people but that does not necessarily involve hands-on work with patients. Before you dive into this exciting career, though, make sure you know what medical administration duties are and what important skills you need to be successful in performing them.
What Are Medical Administration Duties?
The duties of a medical office administrator, or an administrative medical assistant, may vary depending on the setting. In a larger medical office or medical center, you may have specific duties that you specialize in, such as billing or handling patient appointments. In a smaller setting you may be the only administrator, which means being responsible for every administrative duty. Here are some examples of typical medical administration duties:
- Scheduling and managing patient appointments
- Answering the phone and taking patient questions
- Filing, updating, and organizing patient records
- Planning and coordinating hospital transfers and laboratory tests and services
- Processing forms for insurance claims
- Inventorying and ordering supplies
- Managing budgets
- Sorting, opening, and answering mail
- Transcribing medical information for doctors
- Billing insurance companies for services
- Coding medical records for billing
Medical Administration Duties Require Certain Skills
In order to be a successful medical administrative worker, you need to have certain skills. Some of these you can be trained in when you earn your degree, such as medical office software, but others are more likely to be skills you already have, such as organizational or communication skills.
While working as the office administrator, you will have to lead and give instructions to those working under you, but you will also have to listen to and meet the demands of doctors and nurses. The ability to follow directions given to you by these health professionals is crucial. Patient safety and well-being are on the line, so doing as you are asked and always listening to instructions is important.
Being able to use technology is an absolute must. It is one of the most important medical administration duties you can expect to complete on a daily basis in this career. From using scheduling software to managing digital patient records and databases, you will need to be able to not only be comfortable with but master the use of these kinds of technology. If you choose the right educational program, these technologies, software, and databases will be covered so you will be prepared to hit the ground running in your first administrative position.
Excellent Communication and Interpersonal Skills
In addition to using technology, your job as a medical administration professional will involve a lot of communication. You won’t simply be sitting behind a computer working alone. You will be talking on the phone to patients, insurance company representatives, doctors, and hospital and lab administrators. You will also be communicating with patients in person and relaying information from patients to doctors and doctors to patients.
Additionally, you may be faced with difficult patient situations that require real skill to manage. For example, you may have a patient that is upset over a diagnosis or angry because of being kept waiting. Medical office administrators have to handle these situations professionally, calmly, and with compassion.
A medical office has a lot of moving parts, from complicated scheduling to thousands of patient records and bills. To be able to manage it all you must have good organizational skills. Without good organization the office will not run smoothly, and the repercussions can be serious. Poor organization could lead to billing errors, mistakes with prescriptions or dosing, and even diagnoses or procedures that get incorrectly coded. It helps to be naturally inclined to be organized, but you can also learn organizational skills during your medical assistance training.
It also helps, in light of the complicated nature of a medical office setting, to be good with time management. If you are able to stay organized, but not in a timely fashion, you’ll spend all day making sure records get filed correctly and run out of time to do the day’s billing. As with organizational skills, good time management skills may be inherent but can also be learned during training. With a good program you’ll learn strategies for managing your time and getting everything done.
Problem Solving Skills
No matter how well you manage the office or how organized you are, there are always going to be problems that arise in a medical office. These could be technical problems, issues with patients, and billing and scheduling errors. As the administrator in the office you need to be able to problem solve on the fly. You will probably have to troubleshoot computer problems, resolve conflicts with patients, and find and correct administrative errors in files, in billing, and in other places. You will need to be able to do this while keeping a cool head.
An important duty for medical office administrators is making sure the office is equipped with all necessary supplies, from printer paper to surgical tools. This also means that the office administrator has to be able to manage purchases while staying within a certain budget. This involves combining good organizational skills and financial skills to ensure the office does not overspend but that doctors and nurses still have what they need to help patients.
Medical Administration Duties That Require Specialized Skills
A lot of the work of an office administrator in a medical setting is more general administrative tasks, but some require specialized skills and training, including billing and coding. Billing and coding refers to the task of translating medical records using a specific code and then using that translation to bill insurance companies.
In larger medical centers, a trained medical administrative assistant may be hired just to do billing and coding, while in a smaller office you may be expected to perform all medical administration duties, including billing and coding. Either way, having this specific skill is a great way to open up more career opportunities in this field. Make sure you choose an educational program that includes training in billing and coding.
The Job Market for Medical Administration Professionals
You may have all the skills needed to be successful performing medical administration duties, but none of those skills matter if you can’t get a job. Fortunately, the job market for medical careers of all types are growing quickly all over the country, including in Florida. For the next few years, the market for administrative assistants in the medical field is expected to grow by a whopping 23 percent. This is much faster than average job growth and means that there will be almost 150,000 new jobs added over the next five to ten years.
In Florida, the market for medical assistants with administrative specialties is especially strong. Florida currently has more medical assistants employed than all but two other states. The population growth and the aging population in the state are both important reasons that this career is so big and still growing. Trained and skilled medical professionals of all types are in great demand in all areas of Florida, including south Florida. Medical centers, doctor offices, hospitals, nursing homes, and other types of facilities always need trained medical administrators that have the necessary skills for doing the job well.
How to Become a Medical Administrative Assistant in Florida
Because there are so many specific skills needed to complete medical administration duties, it is important to get a good education in order to work in this exciting field of medicine and allied health. If you now feel as if you are well suited to this career, your next step is to find and enroll in a good education program. Aim for a program that will help you earn an associate degree. A degree rather than a certificate will help you learn all of the important skills you need to do the job and be competitive in the job market.
Check out a medical office admin school in Fort Lauderdale to start your South Florida search. Look for a program that will cover medical software, basic medical knowledge and pharmacology, medical emergencies, billing and coding, medical insurance, and medical records management. By enrolling in a program like this, before you know it you will be ready to be hired and to start your new career as a medical office assistant.