Are you good with computers and like to help others? Medical assisting might be the right career for you. During the course of daily operations, at a physician’s office or medical facility, the medical assistant will learn to use medical software and electronic health records (EHRs). The use of medical software like PMS and EHRs is growing and the medical assistant will need to become comfortable using different software tools to manage patient interactions and medical information. A general comfort with learning new computer software interfaces and data entry dashboards is a must.
Medical software deals with the day-to-day operations of a medical practice. Medical software allows medical assistants the ability to keep electronic health records, capture patient demographics, schedule appointments, track patients, manage medical codes, perform billing tasks, manage claims and generate reports. Medical software can be purchased separately or as part of a software system. The main uses of medical software include:
Keeping Electronic Health Records – management of records is important, and many paper records are being converted to electronic records. Medical software allows the medical assistant to search millions of documents and find the right patient records in seconds rather than hours. These software packages can also streamline the transfer of medical records from one medical practice to another.
Appointment Scheduling – allows medical assistants to create and track upcoming patient visits. This function helps keep a medical facility or doctor’s office running smoothly and doctors continuously working.
Patient Tracking – medical software helps medical staff keep track of patients whether they are admitting, discharging, or checking them in at a doctor’s office or managing which departments a patient visits during an appointment. At urgent care and hospitals, medical assistants can keep track of the places a patient goes and what they need based on a physician’s diagnosis. The Software can also track prescriptions and treatment options.
Claims and Statements – this software reduces the time medical assistants spend on billing and claims. It also allows them to manage medical codes easier.
Manage Medical Codes – medical assistants are responsible for remembering many different coding systems for claims, record keeping, and billing. These coding systems include CPT, HCPCS and ICD-10. With the help of medical software, medical assistants can seamlessly add codes to patient records without rope memorization or cheat sheets that cover the computer monitor.
Reporting – reporting capabilities to allow medical assistants to extract detailed data on financial performance and patient financial history.
EHRs and the Changes for Medical Assistants
Electronic health records (EHRs) are being adopted by physicians, moving all their patient information from paper to electronic records. Medical assistants should learn the Electronic Health Record software to better manage patient records. Some of the benefits of training with EHRs for medical assistants include:
• Digital formatting of information to be shared over a secure network
• The ability to better decipher physicians’ hand-writing, minimizing mistakes
• Decreases billing processing time for a more accurate billing system
• Better tracking of care and outcomes
• Helps trigger warnings and reminders
• Easier to send and receive orders, reports, and results
What is an Electronic Health Record (EHRs)?
An electronic health record (EHR) is an official health record for a patient that is managed with the use of medical software and shared among medical facilities and physicians. EHRs may record a range of data, including medical history, medication and allergies, immunization status, laboratory test results, radiology images, vital signs, personal statistics and billing information.
EHR systems are designed to store data accurately and keep track of a patient over the life of care. The EHR system eliminates the need to track down a patient’s previous paper medical records making sure data is accurate and legible. The EHR system can reduce risk of data replication as there is only one modifiable file.
EHR Software Programs
A medical assistant must learn to use medical software in the course of education and on the job training. Electronic health records (EHRs) play a vital role in the medical industry today and training to use electronic health records is vital for medical assistants to succeed. There are many different EHR software programs.
Saving time with medical software will not make medical assistant jobs obsolete, as many believe technology will do. This software will help medical assistants work much more efficiently and be available for the growth in the population and demand for healthcare. With the national demand for medical assistants growing 19 percent in the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, now is the time to become a medical assistant. It can be accomplished in as little as 9 months and you could be helping others as an essential worker on the frontlines.
Do you have an interest in both medicine and technology? Are you interested in learning more about medical assistant software training? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant program prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. PCI Health Training Center in Dallas & Richardson, Texas, is a private career training school committed to meeting the educational challenge of educating and graduating men and women who are qualified and job-ready for employment in the growing health care industry.
For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who complete the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.
Vital signs are clinical measurements of the body’s essential functions. These readings help doctors diagnose disease and other medical conditions. Performed by a medical assistant, it’s a routine but critical task that requires technical expertise, skill, and accuracy.
What Are the Different Vital Signs?
The four principal vital signs are temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate. Measures of clinical significance, including height, weight, and peripheral oxygen saturation, aren’t always a part of vital signs in all doctor’s offices; it depends on their specialty. Oxygen saturation is the percentage of oxygen in peripheral tissue and is a more valuable indicator of health as part of a cardiac workup than a gynecological exam.
When Does a Medical Assistant Take Vital Signs?
Medical assistants take vital signs at each visit. Changes in temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respirations can indicate an acute illness, but patterns over time are even more telling. A single elevated blood pressure reading, for example, is rarely clinically significant on its own, but an up or down trend over months could indicate a serious disorder.
How Are Vital Signs Taken?
Medical assistants take vital signs using the latest equipment and these methods:
The normal adult body temperature is variable. 98.6 is only an average. The healthy range is between 97 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperature is measured orally, rectally, tympanic, and on skin.
Blood pressure is the force blood exerts on artery walls during a two-part cardiac cycle. Systolic blood pressure, measured when the heart beats, reflects the strength of the muscle. It’s reported “over” the diastolic measurement, which is taken when the heart is relaxed. Together readings paint a picture of the patient’s cardiovascular function.
A medical assistant takes a patient’s BP with a sphygmomanometer, a device that measures the rise and fall of a column of mercury as air is added to, or released from, a cuff wrapped around the upper arm. The medical assistant records results as millimeters of mercury, or “mm Hg.”
Arteries vibrate with every heartbeat. Medical assistants measure heart rate, or “pulse,” over the arteries in the wrist, neck or groin by counting the pulsations for 15 seconds and multiplying the result by four.
The rhythm and character of the beats are also noted. Patients with abnormal heart rates or rhythms require special care. Medical assistants use a stethoscope to listen to heartbeats directly because it’s easier to detect abnormalities.
A patient’s respiratory rate is how many breaths they take in 60 seconds, adults average 12–16. Stress and anxiety can cause unexpected changes in how people breathe, so medical assistants count while making chit chat, so patients are unaware.
Medical assistants measure height in inches or centimeters against a vertical surface. Using the same device and a consistent technique at each visit ensures accuracy.
Medical assistants obtain weight in pounds or kilograms using a standing scale. A few pounds gained or lost can be clinically significant, so precision counts.
Peripheral Oxygen Saturation
Oxygen saturation readings indicate how much hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying substance in blood, is reaching the brain and peripheral tissues. Readings are taken with a pulse oximeter that clamps to the patient’s fingertip. The medical assistant records results as a percentage. 95 to 100 is normal. Cold fingers and dark nail polish may cause abnormally low results.
Why Are Vital Signs Taken
Taking vital signs at every visit gives doctors a wealth of information that serves several important purposes.
It Establishes a Baseline
Changes in a patients’ vital signs can only be detected if they’ve been regularly monitored. Readings vary between individuals, and it’s essential not to make treatment decisions without knowing what’s normal for each patient.
It Can Diagnose Illness and Disease
A change in vital signs is often the first indicator of an acute illness. Specific patterns are recognized as indicative of certain conditions. An elevated temperature, pulse and respiratory rate, for example, may suggest infection.
Doctors use trends over time to diagnose disease. A few high blood pressure readings could be flukes, but if it remains elevated, it reflects hypertension, a primary disorder often rooted in heart or kidney disease. Accurate vital signs tell the doctor what to look for and what steps to take.
It’s Used to Calculate and Adjust Medication Dosages
Many medications are prescribed based on:
Heart Rate – Drugs for abnormal heart rhythms can lower heart rate too much. Patients on these medications are asked to check their pulse daily before taking a dose, adjusting it up or down based on rate.
Blood Pressure – Many people’s blood pressure is too variable for a preset dose of antihypertensive drugs, so instead, physicians prescribe a range of BP-related doses. These patients monitor their readings at home and take more or less medication based on the results.
BMI – Also known as body mass index, this reading is used to calculate dosage for a wide range of medications, from antibiotics to anticoagulants. BMI is a calculation using a patient’s height and weight, so those measurements must be accurate.
Oxygen Saturation – Levels are used to determine if someone needs supplemental oxygen or breathing medications. Dosages can be tricky because many people with respiratory issues also have heart disease, and doses for each condition vary. It’s a balancing act made safer by taking vital signs.
Medical assistants perform a broad range of administrative and clinical functions, but among the most meaningful is taking timely, accurate vital signs. These essential measures are a window into a patient’s health and a must for physicians to make sound, therapeutic decisions.
Did learning about taking vital signs interest you? Ready to become a medical assistant? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant program prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist and Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.
Being a Medical Assistant can be a very rewarding career. There’s something very fulfilling about helping someone with their health issues or pain relief. Medical Assistants rely on several necessary skills for success in the field. Math is a skill that plays a very important role in the healthcare profession, especially for Medical Assistants. You may not have realized the importance of accurate math skills for Medical Assistants, but it is used in several different ways throughout their day: such as calculating medication, metric system conversions, vital signs, lab tests and while conducting clerical office work.
A doctor’s prescription may be filled by Medical Assistants to administer medication to patients. In measuring the medication, the Medical Assistant needs to gauge the correct dosage. It’s vitally important to calculate the correct amount, as giving too much or too little to a patient could cause serious harm.
Ratios and proportions are also used when calculating how much medication to give to a patient. The patient’s weight dictates the medication’s dosage. Sometimes micrograms will have to be converted into milligrams by setting up proportions.
In calculating medications for children, one formula to use is Clark’s rule. Graphs and rubrics are also used in determining the correct weight and height. A Medical Assistant will use the weight and height of a patient to create a graph. If a baby scale is unavailable, a Medical Assistant may have to calculate a baby’s weight by weighing an adult and the baby together and then subtracting the adult’s weight from the total.
The medical field primarily uses the metric system for measurements. It’s the most common measurement system in the world. Many believe the metric system is a more accurate way to give medication. Decimal points are also often used in converting metrics as a short-cut. Medical Assistants must have knowledge of converting the customary U.S. measurements into metric measurements. Accurate calculations with those measurements is written in unit notations.
One of the most important vital signs Medical Assistants will take is the pulse/heart rate. They will need math skills for taking respiratory rate, blood pressure and body temperature.
A person’s heart rate is measured by the number of times their heart beats per minute. A patient’s pulse can be taken by placing two fingers (not a thumb) at their wrist over the artery and multiplying the number of beats counted in 15 seconds by 4 to get the heart rate. Respiratory rates can be calculated by watching someone breathe for 15 seconds and multiplying the number of breaths taken by 4.
Blood pressure is measured by two different numbers; the higher number is the systolic pressure and the lower number is the diastolic pressure. When taken, it’s written as a ratio figure with the systolic pressure number over the diastolic pressure number. A Medical Assistant may need mathematical skills to read a thermometer and convert Fahrenheit to Celsius.
Clerical Office Work
Medical Assistants often assist with patient billing. They must know basic addition and subtraction to calculate bills for the cost of the office visit, plus any procedures that were done. A Medical Assistant may call the patient’s insurance provider to verify their insurance and the amount the insurance company will pay toward the patient’s bill and then calculate what the patient owes, minus what their insurance pays.
Did learning about the importance of math for Medical Assistants interest you? Interested in working with colleagues who want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the Medical Assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant programs prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist, Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a Medical Assistant and start a rewarding career today.
For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who complete the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information..
Medical assistants play a critical front-line role in healthcare. Trained to handle both administrative and clinical tasks, their well-rounded skills are a perfect match for today’s busy private practices. From managing the front office to taking vital signs, a medical assistant has a wide range of responsibilities, but few are as essential as venipuncture. It’s one of many technical skills a medical assistant learns in school.What is Venipuncture?
Venipuncture — “veni”, Latin for vein and “puncture”, meaning to penetrate, is the process of drawing blood from a vein. It’s the simplest way to collect cells and plasma for chemical study. Also known as phlebotomy, medical assistants perform venipuncture in most doctor’s offices when lab work is ordered as a value-added service for patients.
Why Does a Medical Assistant Draw Blood?
A medical assistant draws blood only under a physician’s order. Samples are used to diagnose and treat disease, type and crossmatch for transfusions, and monitor therapeutic drug levels.
Diagnose and Treat Disease
Changes in body chemistry can reflect illness. Blood tests detect conditions, such as:
Heart, kidney and liver disease
Type and Crossmatch for Transfusions
The purpose of a “type and crossmatch” is to ensure blood is compatible for transfusions. It has three components, ABO-Rh typing, crossmatching and antibody screening. Typing categorizes blood by group — A, B, AB, O — and by Rh factor — positive or negative, while crossmatching checks a mix of donor and recipient blood for compatibility. Antibody screening looks for additional antibodies that could cause dangerous reactions. In a doctor’s office, a medical assistant may collect blood samples for preliminary typing and crossmatching before planned surgical procedures or in-office transfusions.
Monitor Therapeutic Drug Levels
Certain drugs, such as anticoagulants, anticonvulsants and some antibiotics, have a narrow therapeutic window, too little isn’t beneficial while too much can be toxic. Checking blood samples periodically ensures that prescribed medications are safe and having the desired effect.
The Venipuncture Process
Venipuncture requires both technical and people skills. Sound clinical judgment is a must. The process is designed to reduce errors, improve patient comfort and obtain the most accurate results. There are a few steps in the venipuncture process, they include:
Step #1: Check the Test Requisition
Identify the tests to be performed and verify that patients are properly prepared. Some analyses require fasting or taking medication before the draw.
Step #2: Explain the Process
Patients have the right to know the purpose of testing and what to expect. Proceed only with full consent.
Step #3: Position the Patient
A sturdy chair with armrests is ideal, but a patient with a history of fainting during venipuncture should lie down for safety. Fear and anxiety are best addressed before the procedure.
Step #4: Gather Needed Equipment
Tools for venipuncture include gloves, rubbing alcohol, needles, tourniquets, sample collection tubes, gauze, tape and bandages.
Gloves – all blood products could potentially be contaminated. Medical assistants should protect themselves with gloves.
Rubbing Alcohol – used to disinfect the area where the venipuncture will be performed. Combined with a brisk scrubbing motion, rubbing alcohol doesn’t sterilize skin, but it removes dirt and most bacteria.
Needles – come in a range of lengths and diameters for different veins. Diameter is noted in gauge from 18 for adults to 27 for children. The lower the number, the larger the diameter.
Lengths range from 0.5 to 1.5 inches. Short needles are usually best for superficial vessels, such as those on top of the hand. Longer needles help draw blood from the medial cubital vein at the bend of the elbow.
The medical assistant chooses the diameter and length based on the size of the patient, the location of the vein and the angle of approach.
Tourniquets – confines blood to the area from which it will be drawn. It keeps the vein plump and gives it a firm texture through which to insert the needle.
Sample Collection Tubes – venipuncture was once done with a needle and syringe, but new color-coded tubes with required additives already inside have simplified the process. Rubber-covered needles are screwed into plastic holders, and once inserted in the vein, the medical assistant presses the tubes onto the back of the needle. The pull of the vacuum allows blood to flow on its own.
Gauze, Tape and Bandages – when venipuncture is complete, the site is compressed with a layer of gauze to stop bleeding, and the medical assistant applies an adhesive bandage to protect the patient’s clothing. If the patient has sensitive skin or is allergic to bandage adhesive, secure the gauze with light, hypoallergenic paper tape instead.
Step #5: Assess Veins
Veins may be challenging to draw from if they’re too small, irregularly shaped or deep. Finding the best vessel improves the odds of success on the first draw attempt.
Step #6: Wash Hands
Gloves protect a medical assistant from contaminated blood but washing hands with soap and water protects the patient from infection.
Step #7: Disinfect the Site
Scrub the venipuncture site with an alcohol pad or alcohol-soaked cotton ball. Select tests require using alternative agents, such as chlorhexidine.
Step #8: Apply the Tourniquet
Medical assistants should apply tourniquets tight enough to constrict blood flow but not so tight as to cause pain. It can take several minutes to complete a draw, so ask the patient for feedback.
Step #9: Anchor the Vein
With the patient’s arm secure on an armrest, a vein can be anchored by placing a thumb just below the site. It provides stability and makes the vessel less likely to roll.
Step #10: Puncture the Vein
Insert the needle into the vein with a quick jab at a 30-degree angle. Press a tube into place and fill, each has a minimum fill line. Remove and replace tubes as needed until all samples are drawn.
Step #11: Wrapping Up
To avoid blood spurt, loosen the tourniquet before removing the needle. Cover the site with gauze as the needle is withdrawn, and when the bleeding stops, apply tape or a bandage.
Discard the used needle into a sharps container and carefully label tubes per workplace policy, mislabeled samples are usually rejected. Before patients leave, let them know when results can be expected and how to receive them.
Venipuncture isn’t a job requirement in all doctor’s offices. But as practices offer more on-site services for patient convenience, it’s a valuable skill that breeds opportunity. With experience, medical assistants can seek phlebotomy certification and open the door for future opportunities. It’s a great way to become indispensable to an employer and grow a rewarding career.
Interested in working with colleagues that want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant program prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist and Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.
Becoming a medical assistant requires a diploma from a vocational school and skills that are vital for the job. Candidates must also possess several personal qualities that ensure they are able to interact with patients as well as members of the healthcare team.
Quality #1: Effective Communicator
A medical assistant must learn medical terminology in order to understand professional conversations regarding medical conditions, diagnostics and treatments. In addition to communicating with members of the medical team, good medical assistants must have the ability to translate the terminology into lay-person terms that patients can understand.
Communication is a two-way street. A medical assistant must also possess good listening skills. Medical assistants listen to patients explain their symptoms and concerns. The medical assistant must answer questions to the best of their knowledge. When interviewing a patient, they need to know how to obtain all of the pertinent information from the patient to ensure the physician has the facts necessary to make an appropriate diagnosis. Good listening skills are also necessary when receiving instruction from physicians and nurses. Following an examination, patients may ask a medical assistant to clearly explain any procedures they must undergo and the treatment they will receive.
Quality #2: Compassionate
A medical assistant may encounter patients experiencing pain. Patients or parents may express fear concerning a potential diagnosis or condition. Medical assistants must offer compassion and support. Patients must feel that the medical team understands their concerns and has sympathy for their emotional state. The qualities of compassion and understanding help alleviate anxiety and encourage a sense of calm in patients of all ages.
Quality #3: Outgoing
Throughout each work day, medical assistants interact with a variety of patients, physicians, nurses and other members of the medical team. At times, the medical assistant may need clarification concerning a particular task. They must be able to ask the questions necessary to stay informed. Many of the conversations occur in person. Some of the conversations occur over the telephone. In any instance, a medical assistant must be a “people person.” This occupation is not for someone who is shy or withdrawn.
Quality #4: Nonjudgmental
A medical assistant may encounter patients who require medical treatment as a result of a prior unwise decision. Medical assistants may meet patients who have lifestyle choices or who are from cultures that are in stark contrast to their own. Regardless of the circumstance, the professional behavior of the medical assistant requires that they do not pass judgment on others. It is also unprofessional for a medical assistant to judge or gossip about patients or other employees. During their career, medical assistants may encounter ethical and moral issues but, as a member of the medical team, a medical assistant’s main concern is to always provide the best possible care for their patients.
Quality #5: Self-Controlled
Patients consult with medical professionals in order to receive the treatment they need to maintain their health and well-being. The field often presents several emotional challenges. Medical assistants may interact with patients exhibiting a wide range of emotions. At times it is difficult not to become emotionally attached or affected by the emotions displayed by others. However, despite what a medical assistant thinks or feels in the moment, they must display a professional attitude toward the patient and others.
Medical assistants may encounter people who are less than personable. Medical staff and patients may, at times, become frustrated or angry. In these cases, the medical assistant must have the ability to take another person’s personal temperament in stride and not allow the encounter to prevent them from performing their duties.
Quality #6: Calm Under Pressure
Physicians’ offices, quick-care clinics or similar medical facilities are bustling with activity throughout the day. Staff members pitch in and manage a number of responsibilities and assignments. During the course of the day, a medical assistant might encounter ranting patients or demanding members of the medical team, in addition to trying to fulfill their own duties. At times, an eight-hour shift may seem like a never-ending array of demands. Under these circumstances, the job can easily become stressful. A medical assistant must be able to handle multiple tasks and deal with difficult situations as they arise with a calm, controlled and cool-headed demeanor.
Quality #7: Reliable
Reliability is one of the most desirable qualities any employee can possess. Medical employees are expected to arrive at the agreed upon time and to accomplish the assigned duties within their scope of practice. Other members of the health care team rely on medical assistants to behave and act in a professional manner that appropriately represents the facility in which they are employed.
Quality #8: Honest
By being an honest person, a medical assistant is better able to establish trusting relationships with both patients and colleagues. When explaining procedures and treatments with patients, they must resist the urge to sugar coat the experience. Likewise, if a medical assistant makes a mistake, they should admit the error, make the necessary corrections, make amends and strive to improve. Co-workers will not view someone who engages in deceptive behavior as trustworthy.
Quality #9: Integrity
The quality of integrity can be described as how someone acts when others are not around to witness their behavior. The trait must be displayed when interacting with co-workers or in an examination room with a patient. Patient information is another area in which integrity has a role. The HIPAA Privacy Act protects patient information. Personal patient information should never be shared with people outside of the medical team responsible for that individual’s care. Behavior and conversations in and around the workplace must be both professional and discreet.
Quality #10: Well Organized
The many tasks that a medical assistant might complete in a day require that the individual is well organized. In addition to visiting with patients and consulting with colleagues, the medical assistant is required to complete various documents. They may need to provide medical professionals with laboratory tests and other pertinent information needed to make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe treatment. The various tasks must be completed at specific times during the day. The medical assistant needs to manage their time accordingly to accomplish their duties to the best of their ability in the time frame allowed.
Quality #11: Adaptable
Adaptability is a good trait to possess. A medical assistant must be able to adjust their normal schedule to accommodate sudden change. They may need to use problem-solving skills in order to manage all that is required in the moment. Adaptability also helps when dealing with the many different personalities that medical assistants encounter. As their career progresses, medical assistants may need to learn additional skills or gain advanced knowledge. It is in the best interest of the medical assistant to embrace change as needed.
Did learning about the qualities that make a good medical assistant interest you? Interested in working with colleagues that want to help their patients stay healthy? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant programs prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist, Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.
For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who complete the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.
As a medical assistant student, you will learn the clerical and clinical skills needed to be successful in a Medical Assistant Program. In addition to these skills, there are personal qualities that will make the job easier and more fulfilling. Having these qualities will help you treat patients properly, gain trust from colleagues and create a positive work environment. All the things that are important for creating the best health outcomes for your patients.
Quality #1: Empathy & Compassion
Feeling empathy and compassion for your patients is one of the more important qualities to have. Take a moment and step into their shoes, think about what the patient is going through, what they are thinking about and their view of the future. Listen to what the patient is talking about and try to connect with them on their level. Acknowledge the patient’s feelings and put them at ease at the beginning of the visit. Most importantly, don’t judge the patient as they deal with situations differently and may have more concern for the doctor’s office than you do. Being empathic and compassionate will allow you to treat the patient as you would treat yourself, making their health outcome the best it can be.
Quality #2: Friendliness
Create an environment that is friendly in the doctor’s office. Greet patients with a smile and make sure they understand what they are at the doctor’s office for. Show them to the exam room and have a casual conversation if you feel it will make them feel more comfortable. Try not to ask personal questions, outside of medical history and medical ailments because some patients may feel uncomfortable divulging personal information. Keep the interaction friendly, always have a smile on your face and be considerate of the patient’s time and feelings.
Quality #3: The Ability to Comfort
Many patients will be uncomfortable with coming to the doctor’s office, even for a simple check-up. They are not sure what to expect or what they will learn about their medical situation after the exam. A comfortable experience for patients begins with the atmosphere of the doctor’s office. The waiting room should be calm, and the medical secretary should greet the patient with a friendly greeting. As a medical assistant, you should stay positive and help comfort patients when doing vital signs and recording their medical history. Instead of creating a cold and uncaring environment, make sure the doctor’s office is comfortable to be in and that patient care is the number one priority.
Quality #4: Positiveness
Patients will feed off your positive attitude and understand that you have their best interest in mind. Explain procedures in a positive way, letting the patient know the benefit that they will receive from the procedures or treatments. Having a negative attitude can make patients uncomfortable and ultimately, may encourage them to switch to a doctor’s office where they feel more comfortable.
A positive attitude will help you cope with the patients and their reactions. The positivity will rub off on the patients, helping them cope with their medical worries. Seeing things from a positive point of view will help you to remain optimistic.
Quality #5: Optimism
In addition to a positive attitude, it is important to be optimistic both for yourself and patients. Show the patients that you are confident in what you say and the decisions you make. The more confident you are, the more trusting the patient will be. Optimism helps when educating patients about their health habits. By being optimistic, you can support a patient that may need to change or improve their diet or exercise routine. Being optimistic is about seeing the positive side of the world and expecting a favorable outcome. Optimism breeds trust, confidence, safety and security in an uncertain situation.
Quality #6: Dependability
Colleagues should be able to depend on you. You will want to be punctual and show up for work on time. If the doctor asks you to do something, make sure to do it to the best of your ability to show that you are someone that can be depended upon. You should always be someone everyone can trust and someone that they can count on. Set goals that you can achieve to prove that you are a dependable medical assistant.
Quality #7: Hard Work Ethic
Colleagues enjoy working with medical assistants that are hard workers and take their job seriously. Staying committed to the job at hand, showing enthusiasm in what you do, and having consistent patient outcomes are all part of how you will gain your colleagues’ trust. Take the time to not only do the medical assisting tasks but complete them with satisfactory outcomes. When doctors and nurses become more trusting and confident in your work, they will in turn give you more autonomy.
Quality #8: Discretion
One part of being a medical assistant is dealing with confidential information. It is important to follow all HIPAA guidelines and not break confidence with patient information. There are specific guidelines for what you can tell family and friends about a patient. Being discreet with patients will help them trust you and allow them to have the confidence to provide information regarding their medical situation without worrying about anyone else knowing about it. Discretion shows humanity and gives patients dignity. Show patients respect and they will reciprocate.
Quality #9: Flexibility
As a medical assistant, you will plan out your day, but unexpected situations will always come up that may change your grand plan. You must be flexible to prioritize patients and their ailments. If an emergency situation arises at the doctor’s office, you must be able to focus on the emergency and then get back to your daily patient list. The ability to calmly cope with change, identify problems, and come up with creative solutions is what flexibility is all about. Having this quality will allow you to see things from another angle such as considering the advice of a colleagues. Flexibility allows you to adapt to change and overcome any obstacle you might face.
Although you may already have many of these qualities, if you don’t, the good news is that you can learn them as you complete your diploma in a medical assistant program and while working at your first job. Becoming a medical assistant is a process and these qualities will become more evident as time passes and your training continues. Employers understand that qualities are learned over time, and there is always something new to learn. Keep improving your personal qualities and skills over time and you will always be in demand.
Did learning about the qualities of a successful medical assistant interest you? Ready for an exciting new career in the medical assisting field? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant program prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist and Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.
Interested in what administrative tasks and knowledge a medical assistant needs to be successful? The medical assistant manages multiple tasks and needs extensive administrative knowledge to perform their job responsibilities on a day-to-day basis.
Medical Assistant Administrative Tasks
The medical assistant does many different administrative tasks in the course of work each day, they include:
• Schedule and monitor patient appointments using electronic health record database and paper-based systems
• Verify insurance coverage/financial eligibility based on health insurance plan
• Identify and check-in patients that are seeing the physician for an exam, treatment or procedure
• Verify diagnostic and procedural codes
• Obtain and verify prior authorizations and pre-certifications from insurance companies.
• Prepare documentation, claims and billing requests using current coding guidelines
ICD-10 – the international classification of diseases. A system used by medical facilities to classify and code all diagnoses, symptoms and procedures.
CPT – current procedural terminology. Medical code set used to report medical, surgical and diagnostic procedures to health insurance companies and healthcare providers.
• Ensure that documentation complies with government and insurance requirements
• Perform charge reconciliation, entering charges, making adjustments, and accounts receivable procedures.
• Processing bills for patients, insurers, and third-party payers for services performed
• Resolve billing issues with insurers and third-party payers
Appeals – if the health insurer refuses to pay a claim, the medical assistant will appeal the decision and have it reviewed by a third-party.
Denials – refusal of an insurance company or carrier to honor a request by an individual to pay for health care services.
• Manage electronic health records and paper medical records
• Facilitate referrals to other healthcare providers for special exams and procedures.
• Provide customer service and facilitate service recovery
Follow up patient calls after treatment or procedures to check on the patient.
Appointment confirmations by phone or email
Collect on accounts that are current and past due
• Enter information into databases or spreadsheets
Excel – computer software program used to store, organize and manipulate data.
EHR – Electronic Health Records; comprehensive electronic version of the patients’ complete medical history
EMR – Electronic Medical Records; electronic version of one physician’s medical records and notes
Billing Modules – offers a central workflow to connect information capture between different departments.
Scheduling Systems – allows the medical assistant to keep track of patient appointments for many different physicians and nurses. It also helps them control labor costs.
• Participate in safety evaluations and report safety concerns
• Maintain inventory of clinical and administrative supplies
Medical Assistant Administrative Knowledge
The medical assistant learns knowledge to help them succeed in the medical field while attending a Medical Assisting Program. They must have knowledge of filing systems, scheduling software, telephone etiquette, records management, legal requirements, chart review, government regulations, advanced beneficiary notice, auditing methods, and data entry.
Filing systems – a way in which files are named and where they are placed logically for storage and retrieval.
Scheduling software – helps medical assistants manage appointments and bookings.
• Desktop Applications – maintained on the medical assistants’ computer to create reports and handle scheduling.
• Web-Based Systems – third-party service offers appointment scheduling tools and features accessible by multiple users.
Triage – recognition of urgency of appointment needs
Requirements Related to Duration of Visit – the visit duration depends on the type of medical treatment, exam or procedure and how busy the medical professional is that the patient is seeing.
Telephone Etiquette – it is important for the medical assistant to be consistently polite even when talking to unhappy customers. Calls should be answered as quickly as possible.
Records Management Systems and Software – an organization through the medical records life-cycle including the control of the creation, maintenance, and destruction of medical records.
• Alphabetical – use indirect access, with users locating file headings through a hierarchical or alphabetical list that indicates codes used for filing or retrieval.
• Numeric – a method of classifying medical files for storage and access through the use of numbers that represent a concept.
• Office Storage for Archive Files – paper medical records can be kept on-site in warehouses including Iron Mountain where the medical records are given a reference number for easy retrieval.
• EMR/EHR Software Applications – digital way to create and manage medical records for one physician or throughout a healthcare system.
Legal Requirements Related to Maintenance, Storage, and Disposal of Records – state laws or regulations define the requirements and conditions related to medical records. In the absence of these laws, the HIPPA privacy rule prevails.
• HIPAA – a federal law that sets a national standard to protect medical records and confidential patient information.
• The Privacy Act of 1974 – gives individuals the right to access and request amendments to their medical records.
Categories of the Medical Record – they include administrative, clinical, billing, procedural, notes and consents.
• Administrative – include patient demographics including identifying numbers, date of birth, addresses and contact numbers.
• Clinical – all correspondence relating to clinical matters, laboratory results, X-rays, photographs, videos and audio recordings.
• Billing – records for payment, insurance claims and other billing information between the patient, service provider and insurance company.
• Procedural – medical records that contain information about the action taken and the outcomes of the medical procedure.
• Notes – handwritten physician or medical assistant notations
• Consents – a signed form by a patient prior to a medical procedure to confirm that they agree to the procedure and are aware of any risks that might be involved.
Required Documentation for Patient Review and Signature – the documentation should include the reason for the encounter, relevant history, findings, test results and date of service. It should also include the assessment and impression of the diagnosis and the plan of care with date and identity of observer.
E-referrals – enable the seamless transfer of patient information from one physician to another.
Financial Eligibility, Sliding Scales, and Indigent Programs – financial eligibility is based on the insurance plan chosen, plan premium, the deductible, co-pay and other medical costs.
• Sliding Scales – used to meet the needs of the uninsured or underinsured, providing reduced costs on medical services for those that qualify. No one will be denied access to services at Primary Health Networks, as services are offered regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.
• Medically Indigent Adult (MIA) – a person who does not have health insurance and who are not eligible for other health care coverage. Many government programs help medically indigent adults pay for medical care.
Government Medical Regulations – a rule of order having the force of law, prescribed by an authority, relating to the actions of those in the medical industry.
• Meaningful Use Regulations – The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provide financial incentives for the “meaningful use” of certified EHR technology.
• MACRA – the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act which replaces the current Medicare reimbursement schedule with a new pay-for-performance program. MACRA rewards health care providers for giving better care instead of more service.
• MIPS – Merit-Based Incentive Payment System based on four categories including, quality, resource use, clinical practice improvement activities, and meaningful use of certified electronic health records (EHR) technology.
Advanced beneficiary notice (ABN) – a waiver of liability or a notice a provider should give to the patient before they receive a service that their provider has reason to believe Medicare or insurance will not pay for.
Specialty pharmacies – compounding and nuclear pharmacies that dispense radioactive materials for use in nuclear medicine.
• Liquid – referred to as elixirs, syrups, solutions or mixtures. Liquids are used for those patients that have difficulty swallowing tablets.
• Elixir – a sweetened liquid usually containing alcohol used in medication for its medicinal ingredients.
• Balm – a healing or soothing substance that is applied to the outer portion of the body.
• Ointment – a smooth oily preparation that is rubbed on the skin for medicinal purposes.
Insurance Terminology – a medical assistant must become familiar with insurance terms to process charts, insurance and help educate patients.
• Co-Pay – a payment made by a beneficiary for medical services in addition to the payment made by an insurer.
• Co-Insurance – a type of insurance where the insured pays a share of the payment made against a medical claim.
• Deductible – a specified amount of money that the insured must pay before an insurance company will pay a claim.
• Tier Levels – the levels of payment that a medical plan will pay for medical services. Most coverage levels are categorized by Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum and are given the tier based on the percentage of the cost of medical services they will pay for an insured.
• Explanation of Benefits – a statement sent by a health insurance company to the insured explaining what medical treatments and services were paid for on their behalf.
Accounts Receivable – money owed to the medical facility by a patient or third-party vendor.
• Aging Reports – the list of unpaid customer invoices and unused credit memos by date range. Used to determine which invoices are overdue for payment.
• Collections Due – the cost of services that are overdue.
• Adjustments – allocating payments to the period in which they actually occurred so income and expenses match.
• Write-Offs – a cancellation from a patient’s account of a bad debt.
Online Banking for Deposits and Electronic Transfers – a method of banking in which transactions are conducted electronically via the Internet.
Authorizations to Approve Payment Processing – the approval of electronic debit or credit card transactions for payment by the issuer to the medical facility.
Auditing Methods, Processes, and Sign-Offs
• Product Audits – an examination of products to evaluate whether they conform to requirements.
• Process Audits – a verification of processes working in established limits including time, accuracy, temperature, pressure, composition, responsiveness, and component mixture.
• System Audit – documented activity performed to verify, by examination and evaluation of objective evidence, the applicable elements of the system are appropriately delivered, documented and implemented in accordance with specified requirements.
Data Entry and Data Fields – the medical assistant should be proficient at QWERTY and 10-Key typing for proper charting, billing and management of electronic records.
Enjoy being part of a team that cares about their patients? Want to become a medical assistant? PCI Health Training Center’s Medical Assistant programs prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Medical Assistant. Within this general career category there are several specialty areas, including Medical Administrative Office Assistant, Clinic Assistant, Clinic Tech, Medical Office Manager, Phlebotomist, Physical Therapy Aide in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital out-patient clinic. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical assistant and start a rewarding career today.
For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who complete the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.