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Medical Office Procedures is a text-workbook that introduces and teaches medical assisting administrative tasks; teaches records management, medical communications, and scheduling skills; and describes procedures for preparing patients' charts and bills. Practice management and finances are also addressed. Multi-day simulations provide real-world experience with physician dictation.
At the same time, sophisticated technology poses new challenges for health care professionals. Legal and ethical issues also are constantly being raised. A greater degree of specialization is required of physicians and medical assistants alike. Just as the physician must choose a field in which to specialize, the medical assistant must also select a particular career path and setting in which to work. In addition, increasingly sophisticated computer technology for the medical office makes continuing education a must for the successful medical assistant.
Description of a Medical Assistant
The term medical assistant describes medical office professionals working in a broad range of jobs and settings. The responsibilities of the medical assistant can typically be divided into two categories: administrative tasks and clinical tasks.
Administrative tasks are those procedures used to keep any kind of office running efficiently. Clinical tasks are those procedures the medical assistant may perform to aid the physician in medical treatment of a patient. The assistant may specialize in either administrative or clinical responsibilities, or he or she may perform a combination of the two. However, the number of large incorporated medical practices is increasing, and in such settings it is likely that the medical assistant will specialize in a particular area, whether it be managing records, greeting patients, or assisting the physician with examinations and procedures.
In this text we will concentrate on administrative responsibilities, which involve valuable skills required in most medical office careers.
Important Skills for the Medical Assistant
The medical assistant is a professional office worker dedicated to assisting in the care of patients. To effectively perform all the required tasks, the medical assistant must be proficient in a number of skills.
Written Language Skills. The medical assistant must be proficient in English grammar, punctuation, style, and spelling in order to handle correspondence, filing, and other written work.
Oral Language Skills. Knowledge of correct pronunciation and the ability to speak clearly and correctly are essential skills for the medical assistant to communicate with patients, staff members, and other medical personnel.
Math Skills. The medical assistant must have sufficient math skills to maintain financial records, to bill patients, to order supplies, and to perform a variety of other office tasks.
Equipment Skills. The medical assistant must be able to operate and keep current with office equipment. Computers are used in all phases of the medical office to improve the level of care and to run the office more effectively. Computers can handle:
Correspondence and documents such as release of information or reports of special tests can be sent to another medical facility using a facsimile machine (fax machine) when quick action is required. A fax machine is a device that transmits a copy of a document via telephone lines to another location.
Many hospitals, clinics, and offices also have electronic mail systems, by which messages are sent through a computer network to other staff members or physicians.
Some of the training needed to use this equipment will take place on the job through equipment manuals or vendor-training sessions. Other new skills in using technology can be acquired in continuing education classes and seminars. Whatever the source, the ability to use the latest office technology will ensure success on the job and will enhance the possibility of promotion.
Organizational Skills. In order to manage the sometimes hectic pace of work in the health care field, the medical assistant must have intelligent, systematic work habits and a willingness to take care of details. Scheduling appointments and maintaining an office routine require strong organizational skills.
Interpersonal Skills. Above all, the medical assistant must possess excellent interpersonal skills and a genuine desire to work with people. As the physician's representative, the medical assistant is usually the first person to have contact with patients. How the assistant welcomes patients, talks to them, and attends to their requests will influence the patients' attitudes toward the doctor and the treatment and will affect the entire atmosphere in the office.
Many Functions Performed by the Medical Assistant
One attractive characteristic of the medical assistant's job is the variety of tasks to be done. In a large setting such as a hospital, the medical assistant may specialize in one job function. In a small setting such as a doctor's office, however, the assistant may perform many functions. These may include the following:
The health care industry is continually undergoing change. New technology and a more competitive environment for both hospitals and physicians have made it necessary for the medical assistant to be skilled in many areas. A comprehensive list of those skills appears in Figure 1-1 on page 6. Depending on the career path you choose, you will be responsible for many or all of the tasks shown.
A Day in the Office
What is it like to be a medical assistant? The work in a medical office is interesting and varied. A typical day might be described this way.
The assistant arrives before the start of office hours so that the first patient will be greeted by a composed, organized, and properly dressed representative of the physician. Being on time means being able to attend to the routine of preparing the office before the arrival of patients.
The morning mail, especially reports concerning patients, is sorted and distributed, and charts for patients who have appointments on that day are taken out of the files and organized for the physician.
Shortly after the start of office hours, the telephone starts ringing as patients call to schedule and cancel appointments. In response, appropriate notations are made on the calendar and in patients' charts. Perhaps a patient who has been awake all night with pain calls to speak with the doctor. There may also be calls for refills of medications and for emergencies.
As patients arrive for appointments, the medical assistant attends to each patient personally. New patients need to complete forms. Addresses, telephone numbers, and insurance information must be updated for established patients.
As the day progresses, the physician maygive the assistant correspondence and medical histories to be prepared from transcription or other kinds of work. For example, if the physician is active on a medical committee, the assistant may have items to prepare for a meeting...
|To the Student||ix|
|Part 1||The Administrative Medical Assistant's Career||1|
|Chapter 1||The Administrative Medical Assistant||2|
|Chapter 2||Medical Ethics, Law, and Compliance||28|
|Chapter 3||Computer Usage in the Medical Office||53|
|Part 2||Administrative Responsibilities||77|
|Chapter 4||Telephone Procedures and Scheduling||78|
|Chapter 5||Records Management||110|
|Chapter 6||Written Communications||133|
|Part 3||Patient Records||163|
|Chapter 7||Patient Medical Records||164|
|Chapter 8||Insurance and Coding||190|
|Chapter 9||Billing, Reimbursement, and Collections||222|
|Part 4||Practice Finances and Management||253|
|Chapter 10||Practice Finances||254|
|Chapter 11||Office Management||276|
|Appendix A||Introduction to MediSoft||303|
|Working Papers||WP 1|