Basic Skills Needed to Work in a Medical Office

Use These Skills to Excel

There are many career paths you can take in a medical office. Medical Office jobs include medical office manager, medical assistant, medical secretary, medical biller, medical coder, and more. Regardless of the career, there are eight must-have skills that are required in order to be successful in the medical office environment.

1
Understanding HIPAA - Patient Privacy and Protected Information

confidential files
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Patient privacy is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Understanding HIPAA is one of the most important aspects of the medical office, as there are legal and financial consequences if protected information, including photos of patients, are released without permission. HIPAA breaches by employees can occur in many ways.

Violating HIPAA is simply the unauthorized release of patient information.  Other common HIPAA violations that medical office staff should be aware of include placing PHI (Protected Health Information)  the trash, discussing patient information in public areas, and gossiping with friends or other coworkers about patients. Revealing patient information or images via social media is an easy way to get caught.

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2
Customer Service Even When Harried

Friendly nurse examining patient in hospital triage center,
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Sometimes, the hustle and bustle of the day prevent medical office staff from performing their most important job - delivering excellent customer service. The worst thing you can do as a medical office professional is to treat patients as if they are an inconvenience keeping you from doing your job. They are the job. Without patients, medical office staff would have no job to go to.

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3
Medical Terminology

list of health terminology
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It is important to have a working knowledge of medical terminology to effectively fulfill your duties in a medical office setting. You may not need massive amounts of technical terms, but there are terms specific to the setting that a medical office professional needs to know.

There are classes, schools, and certifications specific to medical office vocabulary. You should keep a current resource handy to refer to for terms that may be unfamiliar.

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4
Telephone Etiquette

Nurse answering the phone in hospital
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Your phone manner matters for patient satisfaction. The front desk personnel who answer the phone must do so in a polite manner every time. This is the contact that will determine how your facility is perceived by each patient.

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5
Email Etiquette

doctor working on computer
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Professionalism needs to be the rule for all email sent from a medical office, whether to coworkers, patients, physicians, hospitals, vendors or other professionals. Use the same professionalism you would use for phone, mail correspondence, or face-to-face. Always remember that email is a form of communication and the way in which the receiver interprets the message is the only thing that matters.

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6
Communication Skills

people working around conference table
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The medical office runs on communications, and they must be clear and complete as they will impact the health of the patients. In order for communication to be completed, there must be ideas or information to be shared, someone to give the information or idea, and someone who will receive the information. Incomplete or inaccurate patient records and communication breakdowns can have serious consequences for the medical office and its patients.

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7
Medical Billing

health insurance claim form

Even though you may not be a medical biller, as a part of the medical office staff it is important to understand the billing process and the role you play in the success of billing patient accounts. Each successfully prepared claim directly impacts the financial health of the practice. An efficient claims management process needs to be understood by all members of the team because every member of the practice contributes to the preparation of a clean claim.

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8
Medical Office Software

Serious doctor working at laptop in clinic office
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As the medical office continues to transform from a paper to paperless environment, the ability to know how to use software becomes more important.  Whether the software is PM (practice management), RCM (revenue cycle management) or EHR (electronic health record), all medical office staff at some point will be responsible for understanding and using software.

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