What Does a Medical Office Specialist Do?

Medical office specialists work in physicians' offices, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other health care settings. Their responsibilities range from greeting patients and visitors to assisting technicians with laboratory work. If you enjoy working with people, have good organizational skills, and are interested in a career in the medical field, a medical office specialist position may be right for you. Schools offering Medical Office Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Duties

A medical office specialist is responsible for a variety of administrative and patient care tasks. Not all medical office specialists perform all of the following tasks; specific duties often depend on the size of the office staff and nature of the practice:

  • Greet patients and visitors
  • Schedule patient appointments
  • Keep patients' records accurately filed, updated, and organized
  • Complete and submit insurance forms
  • Phone in prescription orders and refills to pharmacies
  • Process billing
  • Transcribe dictation and other recordings
  • Handle phone calls, mail, and e-mail
  • Communicate with patients about labs and other test results
  • Help lab technicians and assist in patient treatment as needed

Required Skills

Medical office specialists need certain skills to work in a medical office. Some are as follows:

  • Ability to maintain confidentiality
  • Willingness to stay current with legal regulations, medical terminology, medical coding, and medical office software
  • Commitment to accuracy and attention to detail
  • Ability to communicate and interact well with patients, colleagues and other health care professionals
  • Evidence of strong computer skills
  • Capable of performing CPR and providing other first aid

Work Environment

Medical office specialists are found in nearly every health care environment. Here are some of the facilities where medical office specialists are employed:

  • Physicians' offices
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Long-term care and rehabilitation centers
  • Nursing homes
  • Acute care centers
  • Dental offices
  • Chiropractic and homeopathic practices
  • Public health agencies

Education and Training

While no formal education is required to become a medical office specialist, a certificate, diploma, or associate's degree may help you obtain the skills necessary for the job. You will find these programs at community colleges and trade schools. Medical office specialist educational programs cover many topics, some of which are listed below:

  • Anatomy
  • Medical terminology
  • Medical coding and billing
  • Insurance

Salary Info and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the median annual salary earned by medical records and health information technicians, including medical office specialists, was $34,160 in May 2012. The employment of such specialists is expected to grow by 22% between 2012 and 2022, per the BLS.

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