A patient coordinator deals directly with patients and health care providers. She is responsible for maintaining patient information such as medical history, results of tests and examinations and patient symptoms. To do this, she must use medical technology and software. She must have a strong attention to detail, be comfortable with computers and be able to gather and analyze data. This is a great career for someone who is interested in health care, likes working with and helping people and embraces technology.
As a patient coordinator or patient representative, you interact with patients in several capacities. You may be called upon to explain terminology and procedures, research inquiries, instruct on how to use home health care products and collect and prepare data for further research. In addition, a patient coordinator may be responsible for creating marketing materials such as brochures and newsletters.
To qualify for a patient coordinator job, one must have an associates’s degree, preferably in a related area such as health information management. In addition, employers will want to see broad health care experience, excellent communication skills, the ability to deal with a wide range of clients from patients to health care provides and certification as a registered health care information administrator or registered health information technician. These certifications can be obtained through the American Health Information Management Association.
In addition to an associate’s degree, a candidate for patient coordinator must have taken classes such as anatomy, medical terminology, physiology and health information technology. Advanced classes will improve a candidate’s admission to a bachelor’s program. These programs include math, chemistry, biology and computer science.
The career field of patient coordinator is projected to grow faster than average, with an estimated 14 percent to 19 percent growth from 2008 to 2018. For those have a strong understanding of medical technology and software, employment opportunities should be plentiful. In addition to jobs being available due to growing demand in this field, jobs will also need to be replaced due to those retiring from the field. Almost 40 percent of patient coordinator jobs are located within a hospital setting. The rest work in nursing homes and senior living facilities, home health care and doctors’ offices.
People wishing to advance in the field of patient coordination may obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree to improve their skills and marketability. Certification in specialty areas may also improve the chance for career advancement. The American Academy of Professional Coders offers a credentialing process for coders. The National Cancer Registrars Association provides a credentialing designation as a Certified Tumor Registrar. A patient coordinator may advance to the role of a health information manager with the proper experience and training.