Medical Office Administration comprises all of the non-clinical, non-management activities in a patient care setting such as a physician’s office, rehabilitation clinic or hospital. These activities include greeting and scheduling patients, maintaining patient records, coding and billing, purchasing supplies and processing insurance claims. More specifically, work settings include physician and dentist offices, hospitals, nursing homes, freestanding clinics, surgery centers and insurance offices. Medical Office Administrators/Professionals (MOAs) work anywhere that patients need to be greeted, treated, billed or reimbursed by their insurance. MOAs are relied upon to be the liaison between the patient, the healthcare team and/or the insurance company.
There is no formal training required to become an MOA, but with the increased complexity of health care administration, employers prefer to hire people with training in areas such as medical vocabulary, customer service, coding and billing, record keeping and insurance coverage to name a few. Such training programs typically require 9-12 months for a diploma or 15-21 months for an Associate’s Degree.
The ideal MOA enjoys interacting with the public, has excellent oral communication skills, is detailed, organized and empathetic.
How does it feel to be an MOA?
As the receptionist and/or appointment scheduler, the MOA is the “Director of First and Last Impressions.” They set the tone for the patient’s visit and will probably be the last person the patient interacts with as they check to ensure that everything met the patient’s expectations. As such, the MOA plays a critical customer service role on the team. Both the verbal and non-verbal feedback they receive from patients fuels their day. They are also gratified in their ability to solve patients’ insurance problems or quickly identify a physician for referral. When it comes to the day-to-day of the practice, MOAs are the “fixers” or the “jack of all trades” that keep things going, and their clinical colleagues (e.g. doctors and nurses) know that and share their appreciation. The work can be very fast-paced, highly diverse and occasionally chaotic, but at the end of the day MOAs know they did something important.
That is one reason why MOA (specifically Medical Secretary) is ranked 54th by the US News and World Report among the 100 Best Jobs.
The MOA profession is large and growing rapidly. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are more than 800,000 administrative personnel employed in physicians’ offices alone. They forecast that MOA jobs throughout health care will grow by 36 percent between 2012 and 2022, or four times as fast as the average profession.
Once established, MOAs career growth opportunity is limited only by the energy they put into their job and their pursuit of additional education.