You love working as front-office staff at a healthcare provider, but you wonder if there is more you could do to serve the practice and the patients who visit.
Most receptionists require only the qualifications of an administrative assistant; they may be expertly skilled in customer service and organization, but they often lack advanced credentials that could improve their ability to function in highly specialized spaces, like healthcare. If you are prepared to take the next steps into a healthcare career, here are a few ways you might invest in your own professional development and become a better medical receptionist for the future.
Not all medical offices require their front-office staff to have a certification as a medical administrative assistant, but many do. If you are considering leaving your current employer to work for another medical office or perhaps a larger medical institution like a hospital, you may need to equip yourself with this certification before you take the leap.
As a certified medical administrative assistant, you will assume primarily administrative tasks as well as the occasional clinical task to ensure that medical offices and clinics are organized and running smoothly. To achieve this certification, you will need to complete an exam administered by the National Healthcareer Association, and you will need to renew your certification every two years.
Health information is remarkably sensitive, which is why it is so heavily protected by federal regulations. However, medical offices tend to collect and store an extreme wealth of health information, which means they need qualified professionals to help them manage and secure all that data.
You can unlock higher earning potential and improve your responsibilities as a medical receptionist by pursuing a degree in health information management. You can complete an online program in as little as 18 months, after which you will have the knowledge and skill to support information management within a wide variety of medical contexts, from small offices to major institutions. The demand for health information management professionals is high and only growing higher, so the sooner you become qualified in this field, the better.
Though every patient is unique — and thus every interaction a patient has with their healthcare provider is unique — health offices must have a method of standardizing services to communicate with insurers and issue bills. That system is medical coding, which translates every service a patient may receive into a unique alpha-numerical code. There are thousands of different codes, and knowing all of them is the responsibility of certified medical billers and coders.
Every medical office and institution must engage with medical billing and coding, and having a medical receptionist who is certified in the field can help smaller offices stay organized and keep costs low. Then again, if you are interested in pivoting your career out of medical offices, you can also find work as a certified coder with insurance providers and other non-medical healthcare companies.
Many people enter the healthcare industry due to a genuine interest in providing care to patients in need, but becoming a provider like a nurse or physician requires years of dedicated study that you might not be willing or able to complete. Fortunately, you can become certified as a nursing assistant, which allows you to perform the most rudimentary healthcare activities, like taking vital signs, assisting with patient hygiene and performing basic medical procedures.
Having a nursing assistant certification can be valuable even if you plan to continue functioning as front-office staff. You may be able to provide support when the office is busy or understaffed to relieve pressure on nurses and doctors on duty. You obtain certification, you will complete about 75 hours of training and be required to pass an exam.
A medical receptionist is a key component of a functional and efficient medical office, but there is so much more you could be doing for your healthcare employer if you are inclined to take on more responsibility — and qualify for higher pay. Proper healthcare needs the support of passionate and skilled administrative staff, so you should start your journey into healthcare administration today with any of the above certifications.