What It's Like Working at the Front Desk in a Medical Office

What It’s Like Working at the Front Desk in a Medical Office

18 April 2019 By Kate

Doctors and staff working in a medical office front desk

If you are interested in administrative work within a healthcare environment, working in a medical office could be the path for you. Learning more about what such a job typically entails and the skills you’ll need can help you figure out if medical office administration is the right career for you.

Medical Office Duties

A front-desk worker in a medical office often performs a range of office tasks. You may need to schedule patient appointments and enter them into the patient’ record. Other responsibilities can include sending scheduled reminder letters and filing reports and other documents. An increasing number of medical offices uses electronic records. Thus, you may need to scan documents or enter information using specialized software. At the same time, you will need to maintain paper records properly.

Many of your responsibilities will involve regular office work. You will make copies and send faxes. You may also be in charge of dealing with office equipment and scheduling repairs. You will also have to keep track of office supplies and order them as needed.

Distinctive features of working in a medical office include using specialized software instead or in addition to regular office programs. Medical office administrator skills also include knowing medical terminology. You may have to do some medical billing work, which means knowing how medical coding works.

Phones and Correspondence

Answering the phone will be among your major duties at the front desk. You will also need to call or write to insurance companies, laboratories, hospitals, other healthcare providers and vendors. Some of these calls will be routine; others may need your problem-solving skills to address complicated issues. You may schedule outside procedures for patients, obtain test results or troubleshoot ongoing issues.

A key part of effective communication is keeping clear and accurate records of your calls and correspondence. If phone calls or letters concern a particular patient, you will need to ensure proper documentation goes into his or her record so the healthcare team can easily reference it.

Patient Interactions

Whether patients call the office or come in, you will be the first person they interact with. Thus, you will be representing your office. Patients often base their expectations of the care they will receive on their initial interactions with the front desk staff. Thus, it is important to remain friendly and professional at all times. In some cases, patients may be difficult, frustrating or even belligerent. Though it may be difficult, you will need to keep your calm and help the patient to the best of your ability.

When patients enter the office, you will greet them and show them where to sign in. First-time patients will typically need to fill out a variety of forms. You will help keep patient flow going by effective appointment scheduling and communication with patients and providers.

Patient Confidentiality

Maintaining patient confidentiality is a key part of working in any healthcare setting. Working in a medical office, you will need to be highly aware of this issue of all times. Part of any high-quality training for a medical office administration job will cover the ins and outs of the legal regulations surrounding confidentiality requirements.

Some issues to be aware of include the topics you broach when greeting patients and speaking to them in the waiting room. If others are present, it is best to avoid discussing the patient’s medical conditions. You will also have to maintain safeguards to ensure the confidentiality of paper and electronic patient records.

Important Medical Office Administrator Skills

To perform well while working in a medical office, you will need to develop some essential skills. To excel in the administrative parts of your duties, you will need to be attentive to detail and highly organized. In a healthcare setting, it is especially important to keep complete and accurate records, as even a seemingly small mistake can seriously affect a patient’s care. If anything is unclear to you, you must be able to speak up and ask for clarification.

Another vital aspect is mastering the specialized skills you need in a medical setting. You will need to master specialized medical software and learn the right terminology. You should be familiar with how insurance claims work, as well as laboratories and other facilities. Patient confidentiality, billing accuracy, and record maintenance are all medical administration areas that are heavily governed by a variety of regulations, so you need to understand how these apply to what you do.

Interpersonal skills are important to any front desk position, but play an especially major role in a medical office. The topics you may need to discuss with patients may be difficult or sensitive. People who are experiencing medical problems and their families may not be at their best when interacting with you. It is essential to keep a calm and empathetic demeanor even in challenging situations.

Moving Forward

A high-quality training program can help you attain the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in medical office administration. Contact Pioneer Pacific College online or call 866-772-4636 to learn how we can support your career goals.


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