Importance of Medical Office Professionals

Medical Assistants

Emergencies bring out the best in people, and nowhere is that more evident than in the healthcare field. Essential medical workers across the country are coming together to support their communities during this public health crisis, and the good news is that it’s working. COVID-19 is under control, but it continues to be a long-term threat, and the shortage of healthcare professionals looms large. For students interested in a career in medicine, now is the time to join those on the front line as medical office assistants.

The Importance of Essential Workers

Essential workers perform the services necessary to protect property and human life during a pandemic, examples include firefighters, transportation employees, food manufacturers and physicians. But in medicine, administrative responsibilities are an integral part of care, so medical office assistants are as essential as doctors and nurses.

Why are Medical Office Assistants Important During a Health Crisis?

To prevent the spread of Covid-19, patients with respiratory symptoms are being asked to avoid emergency rooms, so doctor’s offices are busier than ever. There’s so much to do.

A medical office assistant tackles a full range of administrative duties in a healthcare setting. They have no clinical responsibilities, but by handling the clerical responsibilities that are an essential part of every visit, they allow doctors and nurses to see more patients. At a time when demand for care has skyrocketed, it’s a crucial role.

Primary responsibilities of medical office assistants include scheduling appointments, overseeing the waiting area, checking in patients, managing medical records, bills and accounting, and ordering office supplies.

Scheduling Appointments

Medical office assistants are responsible for answering phone calls and making appointments. In a busy practice, they manage clinical schedules and equipment needs for hundreds of visits daily. During a pandemic, scheduling is even more challenging as frequent emergencies arise.

Overseeing the Waiting Area

As ambassadors of first impressions, medical office assistants oversee waiting areas, making sure they’re clean and safe for vulnerable patients as they arrive. They make the most of waiting time by being hospitable, answering questions and assisting with pre-visit paperwork.

Checking in Patients

A medical office assistant ensures patients have the best experience possible by verifying personal and insurance information at check-in. Mistakes in healthcare records can lead to dangerous medical errors, while inaccuracies on insurance forms can result in rejected claims or an unexpected bill for the insured when they can least afford it.

Managing Medical Records

Medical office assistants update electronic health records before each visit. They manage the flow of confidential medical data between patients and doctors as well as referring physicians. Integrity and attention to detail are a must.

Billing and Accounting

Billing specialists are responsible for filling out insurance forms, but claims are only as sound as the information in them. Medical office assistants play an important part in the billing process by clarifying demographic information and insurance policy numbers before patients see the doctor. They may also review accounts and collect copayments before the exam. Light accounting tasks include reconciling cash drawers and credit card receipts.

Ordering Office Supplies

The pace in a doctor’s office is brisk during a pandemic, so a well-stocked supply closet is critical. Medical office assistants are responsible for ordering supplies practice-wide, working with both staff and vendors to guarantee needed items are on hand.

Depending on the size and type of practice, medical office assistants may have other duties, such as:

  • Completing insurance forms
  • Transcription
  • Correspondence
  • Filing
  • Marketing
  • Assisting with financial reports
  • Patient outreach

As clients’ first point of contact with their provider, a medical office assistant is a vital source of support and information. The medical office assistant’s warm and welcoming demeanor inspires patients’ confidence in their care and preserves the practice’s reputation.

Training to Be a Medical Office Assistant

Training to become a medical office assistant is easy. Students attending a vocational school program full-time can be out of the classroom and earning money in just six months. It’s a future-looking career choice for this year’s high school graduates or unemployed adults looking for a new career path. Flexible learning options may be available, and most institutions offer assistance with job placement after graduation.

Employers are now hiring to meet the extreme demand caused by COVID-19. And even prior to the pandemic, positions for medical office assistants were already expected to soar by nearly 23-percent in the next ten years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As millions more Americans reach age 65, the need for accessible preventive care is skyrocketing. So unlike training for jobs that are slowly disappearing due to advances in technology, the skills learned in a medical office assisting program will remain relevant.

Why Get a Medical Office Assistant Diploma?

Having a vocational school diploma demonstrates a student has the knowledge and practical skills necessary for success in an entry-level position. It’s everything an employer needs to feel confident hiring an applicant, as well as a firm foundation students will want to build a better lifelong career. Graduates are qualified to sit for one of several exams leading to nationally recognized credentials.

While most of the 601,700 medical office assistants on payrolls today are employed in private practices, roles for medical office assistants are continually expanding to hospitals, clinics and more. The job market is thriving.

Final Thoughts

The shortage of essential healthcare workers during this public health crisis is serving as a valuable wake up call. The country should never be caught short-handed. The community’s best defense against shifting demographics and the next pandemic is plenty of skilled support staff, such as medical office assistants. For students, it’s both a mission and an opportunity.

Are you ready to pitch in and help during this health crisis? Want to become a medical office assistant? The Medical Office Assistant Program is designed to prepare graduates to work as an entry-level medical front office assistant, receptionist, insurance biller, insurance collector, appointment scheduler, medical secretary, or medical records clerk in health care centers, clinics, hospitals, ambulatory care centers and medical billing offices. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical office assistant and start a rewarding career today.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information.

How to Create a Medical Office Emergency Plan

How to Create a Medical Office Emergency Plan

A medical office needs to be resilient in times of crisis. FEMA recommends that all businesses plan in advance to manage any emergency. They recommend being prepared to assess the crisis situation, use common sense and use available resources to take care of the those involved.

During a crisis is the time when patients are at their most vulnerable and when medical offices may need the most support. It is very important that a medical office and all its employees know how an emergency plan operates. Medical office administration staff are ideal at developing emergency plans.

Risk Assess the Potential

One of the most important things for the medical office assistant to do when developing an emergency plan is to consider the potential risks to the medical facility. This ranges from flooding from a nearby river making roads impassable to a chemical plant being in the neighborhood. An emergency may include illness striking the staff and the need for an emergency staffing plan. The medical office may fall into darkness with an electricity outage. Increasingly the risk of computer system failure and hacking is a hazard as more records and systems go digital. It is also recognized in emergency planning that it is impossible to plan for everything as the unexpected can and does occur. Being prepared for common scenarios increases the resilience of the medical office and the likelihood that everyone involved will be safe.

Stock Emergency Supplies

Every medical facility needs to be prepared for a crisis and have the proper supplies to combat any situation. Basic supplies include fresh water, food, clean air and warmth. Each employee should have a personal kit that satisfies their specific needs including any medications they may need. First aid kits should be available in case of an emergency. Other items that may be supplied in case of an emergency include a battery-powered commercial radio, extra batteries, flashlights, whistle to signal for help, and tools to turn off utilities.

Clearly Display Emergency Routes

It is important to include the emergency routes out of the medical office. Staff and patients need to be aware of the emergency routes and follow them in case of a crisis. These emergency routes must take into consideration the use of stairs rather than elevators and access for disabled co-workers. There should also be a rally point set for everyone to meet after leaving the medical office. Make sure to account for all medical staff and patients when arriving at the off-site emergency location.

Pick an Emergency Leader

The medical office administrative staff should be in charge the day of the crisis. They will be fully in charge of the medical office emergency plan and have the authority to make decisions to keep people safe. The medical office administrative staff will also have the knowledge, skill set and available resources to implement the emergency plan. They will also become ambassadors for new employees and those needing retraining.

Develop Contingency Solutions

Once the medical office is aware of potential hazards they can create an emergency plan in case a crisis occurs. Having a contact list of all staff is vital. The plan needs to list the processes to take should an emergency situation occur. An example is a scenario where all the doctors have contracted influenza and are unable to work. Solutions might include cancelling routine surgery and getting colleagues from another medical office to cover for the sick doctors. If there is deep snow, or flooding, some of the administrative work may be continued remotely by staff having access from home. Another critical solution for emergency planning is to make sure computer systems are backed up off site. If the office caught fire destroying computers, it is essential to have access to medical records.

Working with a Larger System Plan

One of the most important things for medical office administration staff to do when developing an emergency plan is to connect to other organizations. The city government may have systems in place that the medical office can take advantage of. The community can come together to plan with local hospitals, and the fire and rescue services in case of a crisis. It is also vital for a medical office to partner with other medical facilities in the area to ensure plans are consistent and there is cross coverage. The medical office can also provide support to a hospital in an emergency if there is an overflow of injured patients. By being part of a larger plan, across a region, there is likely to be consistency with planning in emergencies.

Test the Plan

One of the most important things to do is test an emergency plan by having a trial drill. This can be organized by the medical office administration staff who also keeps records to ensure everyone has received training. Practice exercises identifying issues that need to be resolved and amended for the medical office emergency plan. The practice also ensures that medical office staff is familiar with the plan and can act in an emergency situation.

Emergency planning is a vital part of running a safe medical office. By having an agreed upon and tested emergency plan, a medical office can be as prepared as possible for a real-world crisis.

Ready to be a part of a community that takes care of all medical staff and patients? Want to become a medical office assistant? The Medical Office Assistant Program is designed to prepare graduates to work as an entry-level medical front office assistant, receptionist, insurance billing, insurance collector, appointment scheduler, medical secretary, or medical records clerk, in health care centers, clinics, hospitals, ambulatory care centers, and medical billing offices. Contact PCI Health Training Center for more information on how to become a medical office assistant and start a rewarding career today.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

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.