No matter how old or how young, good health care is important to everyone. As a medical office assistant, your role will be to communicate information, maintain medical records, and assist patients in moving through the administrative aspects of their treatment.
You will work directly with patients or their caretakers to schedule appointments, arrange for hospital admission, and gather information needed for medical records and insurance claims. You will also receive and route messages and important documents, such as laboratory test results, to the appropriate individuals in the office.
With new HIPAA regulations and increasingly complicated insurance filing procedures, the maintenance of patients' records has never been more important. You will ensure that patient record privacy is maintained while at the same time, making sure that the needed information gets to the proper agencies and people.
Because of increased workflow efficiency as a result of technology, many routine tasks that once were performed manually are now automated. Tasks that were performed by medical office assistants are being replaced by increasing levels of responsibilities once reserved for managerial and professional staff including functions such as training new office staff.
While there are some part-time job opportunities, you will find that as a medical office assistant the majority of job opportunities are full-time. Typical work settings include private practice doctor offices, hospitals, and nursing homes. In addition to medical doctors, you may work for specialized doctors such as optometrists, chiropractors, and dentists.
Most medical office assistants work a standard 40-hour week, Monday through Friday. More and more medical offices have evening and weekend hours to better meet the needs of their patients. This may require you to be flexible with how your work hours are distributed throughout the week.
In many settings, you will be a key contact person who works with a variety of people including doctors, nurses, patients of all ages, insurance company personnel, and pharmaceutical sales representatives to name just a few.
Technology will also play an important role in any health care setting in which you might work. Word processing and database software, scheduling and billing programs, as well as voice recognition systems for medical record transcription are commonly used in the daily activities you'll be performing.
Job opportunities for medical office assistants are expected to grow as fast as average compared to all other occupations. Nationally, new positions are expected to grow by 31 percent by 2020. Within Michigan, jobs are expected to remain relatively constant with about 5 percent job growth during the same time period. Locally, well-qualified medical office assistants are in high demand and the outlook continues to look good in the near future.
The increase in job openings will be a result of the expected growth in the medical industry as well as from the need to fill openings left by people who have been promoted or who leave for other fields of work.
According to LMC Medical Office Systems instructor and advisor Lisa Augustiniak, becoming a medical office assistant can lead to office management positions with higher wages and greater responsibility.