What is Medical Office Management?
Doctors' offices rely on the expertise of physicians, nurses and other healthcare providers. But they're not the only essential part of a smoothly running medical practice. Medical office managers and other healthcare administrators oversee the daily operations at medical facilities to ensure patients receive the best possible care. Their duties may include supervising administrative medical assistants and health information technicians, overseeing billing and recordkeeping efforts, and ensuring operations are compliant with state and national laws. For additional information, visit our page on healthcare administrator careers.
Medical Office Management Program Information
Medical office management programs are typically found at community colleges and may be offered in a campus-based or online format. During their studies, students should gain a strong understanding of administrative and management skills required to achieve success in a healthcare office or facility. Programs may provide instruction in healthcare rules and regulations, human resources, medical software, billing and insurance processes, medical coding, electronic recordkeeping and interpersonal communication. In some cases, these programs may include basic clinical instruction.
Medical Office Management Program Types
Programs at the following levels can generally be found at medical office management schools.
- Certificate: Depending on a student's class schedule, this program typically takes one year to complete. Students can learn the basics of medical billing, insurance and medical terminology. Office organization, leadership and marketing are also covered. Earning a certificate can act as a solid foundation for future studies at the associate or bachelor's level.
- Associate Degree: These programs can usually be completed in as little as two years of full-time study. In addition to medical office management courses, associate degree programs typically include general education classes such as English composition and college algebra. Students may also be able to take several non-program-related electives. An associate degree can act as a springboard for those planning on pursuing a bachelor's degree and master's in healthcare administration.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that a bachelor's degree is the typical point of entry for healthcare management positions. However, certificate and associate degree graduates may still be able to become managers without additional education in some cases. Those with little to no work experience may need to gain several years of experience as an administrative medical assistant or similar entry-level role before pursuing management roles.
Medical Office Management Course Descriptions
Though individual programs vary in their course offerings, many have medical office management courses similar to those listed below:
- Health Informatics: Introduction to healthcare information systems, including electronic health records.
- Medical Coding: Coding rules, guidelines and regulations. Applications of coding for billing.
- Business English: How to apply writing and editing skills for business.
- Medical Insurance: Covers medical insurance through terminology, ethical and legal issues, and claims.
- Medical Terminology: Explanation of abbreviations, symbols, word origin and structure, and medical specialties.
- Word Processing: How to use tables, graphics, documents and merging.
Related Career Options
Students studying medical office management may be able to seek related career options upon graduation, such as:
- Medical Coder: Assigns clinical codes to procedures and diagnoses for medical billing, insurance, and recordkeeping purposes.
- Medical Transcriptionist: Listen to voice recordings of doctors and health professionals and write the information into reports.
- Medical Office Assistant: Maintain records, schedule appointments, communicate by phone and welcome patients.
These and other related careers may necessitate additional training, licensing or certification.
Links to Sources and Associations
The websites below provide additional information on medical office management:
American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management, http://www.aaham.org/
American College of Healthcare Administrators, http://www.achca.org/
American College of Healthcare Executives, http://www.ache.org
Association for Healthcare Administrative Professionals, http://www.ahcap.org/
American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration, http://www.ashhra.org/
Healthcare Financial Management Association, http://www.hfma.org/
Medical and Health Services Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Medical-and-health-services-managers.htm