Medical Office Manager

In the recent debate over reforming health care, one of the most pressing issues has been dealing with costs. Administrative costs have been estimated to eat up almost a third of every health care dollar spent in the United States. Reform is clearly coming in the next several years. The shape that reform takes remains a matter of political maneuvering. What is without doubt is that savvy administrators, rather than becoming obsolete, will become more valuable than ever. They are going to need to use the latest knowledge and technology to become agents of reform. People in small offices will have an even larger impact than those working for large hospitals, as they will be responsible for the streamlining of procedures and paperwork. Medical office managers can be a part of this overhaul if they have the most current training.

Medical office managers run the business side of a medical practice. They must coordinate with physicians, their support staffs, and other administrative workers to purchase supplies and account for them. They coordinate the maintenance and cleaning of the facilities. They either outsource or personally handle the human resources needs of their office. This might include managing payroll, choosing and updating their companyís own health plan, and staffing. Depending on the size of their organization, they may have responsibilities dealing with patients. This might even include keeping medical records, which is a complex skill all by itself. A medical office manager is a jack-of-all-trades who ensures the smooth functioning of the office environment so that the medical professionals can focus on diagnosis, treatment, and general patient care.

Medical office managers are businesspeople first and medical workers second. Although they must be familiar with the demands of patient care and the specific supply lines particular to their office, their main expertise should lie in business administration. A degree in administration is one way to enter the field. Most offices these days are looking for people with a bachelorís degree to run their business. Specializing in medical administration in school provides an added advantage. Even an associateís degree in medical administration or medical office management gives candidates an advantage through having more targeted training than those with other administration degrees.

Students in degree programs will train on choosing appropriate insurance carriers and how to file and bill for insurance. They may take coursework on medical billing and coding to learn how the insurance industry communicates about medical treatment. They will also take course in the software that businesses use to do general accounting and reporting, such as Excel and Word. Some schools include clinical classes to instruct candidates how to deal with patients in emergency situations. Getting a masterís degree in administration, especially one targeted to the medical industry, may put you in line to overhaul a large organization. It takes special experience and leadership skills to manage a large organization effectively.

Medical office managers can improve their employment chances by becoming certified or credentialed. Although rules differ from state to state, administrators may not need to be licensed. Certification offers candidates a seal of accomplishment and quality by signifying that other professionals in their field have judged the work they do and the knowledge they have to meet professional standards. A professional association that is accredited by the state typically carries out certification. Candidates must provide proof of appropriate educational achievement and must pass a standardized test. They must also get recertified on a regular basis to show their skills and education has kept pace with changes within the industry.

Last Updated: 05/22/2014