Medical office administration is exactly what it sounds like. Whether at a hospital or a doctor's private practice, medical office administration jobs are about keeping the company's staff and office running smoothly. Medicine is an industry and doctor's offices and clinics are businesses. Just like any business, they need someone to handle the paperwork, the billing and other mundane matters. A medical office administration degree can give you your start.
Studying for Your Degree
A medical office administration degree is an associate degree, rather than a four-year bachelor program. If you're going to college full-time, it takes about two years to get your degree. Common courses in such programs include:
- Medical terminology.
- Human resources management.
- Health insurance systems.
- Keyboarding, AKA data entry.
- Legal issues in health care.
- Medical coding, which turns details of diagnoses and treatments into an alphanumeric code for filing records.
- Billing and insurance.
- Medical transcription.
- Office administration.
- Computer courses in software such as Word or Excel.
Some colleges offer faster, more limited training, such as a medical coding and billing certification after two semesters of study.
Office Admin Responsibilities
There are a wide variety of health office administration jobs and responsibilities. Medical offices range from small practices with one office staffer to massive hospitals with a sizable administrative department. The exact responsibilities for an office administrator will vary with the size of their employer and their staffing needs, but could include:
- Transcribing doctors' dictation.
- Recording medical histories.
- Arranging for patients to be hospitalized.
- Ordering supplies.
- Scheduling appointments and meetings.
- Preparing insurance forms.
- Organizing the office files.
- Communicating by phone, mail and email.
- Keeping the office accounts.
Medical Office Administration Jobs
A medical office administration degree qualifies you to work in doctors' offices, clinics, hospitals and health-insurance offices. When you've just graduated, your work might be limited to simple clerical tasks, functioning as a medical secretary. As you gain experience in the medical office environment, you can request higher responsibilities or move to another job with more challenges.
The scope of the degree also qualifies you to work in multiple medical office administration careers:
- Accounting clerk.
- Medical coder.
- Medical billing.
- Medical records technician.
- Payroll clerk.
Some of the jobs will be fairly close to the same work in other industries; the basic principles of accounting don't change whether you work for a hospital or a factory. However working with peoples' lives and health makes it even more important to get the job done right. Recording business information accurately is always important, but medical coding covers details such as a patient's pre-existing health conditions. Accuracy is literally a life and death matter.
Medical records technicians - also called health information technicians - are charged with the task of ensuring that records are entered in a timely and accurate manner. They also must keep patients' records confidential. The legal consequences for sharing information are much worse than if, say, an electronic salesman talks about who just bought a flat-screen TV.
A medical transcriptionist, also known as a health care documentation specialist, converts the doctor's voice recordings about patients into written reports. They use the information to prepare medical histories, discharge summaries and other paperwork. It's not only about the typing; the transcriptionist must interpret medical terms and abbreviations, and then review and edit documents created with speech recognition technology.
You can broaden your career potential by gaining added certifications. With a two-year degree, you can apply to a program for training certified tumor registrars. Cancer registrars are data information specialists. They collect data on the medical history, diagnosis, treatment and health of cancer patients. This information enables researchers, doctors and public health officials to conduct research and improve cancer treatments, as well as prevention programs and screening programs.