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Research Project Abstract



Inany particular doctor’s office, clinic or a high-level healthfacility, the presence of support personnel, doctors, nurses andother health care professionals is significantly important. One ofthe support staff behind the scenes of health services delivery arethe medical office assistants. These individuals are tasked with theperforming of a wide range of functions and support duties. Some ofthese activities include assisting doctors and nurses with theconduction of laboratory tests, sterilization of instruments,preparing supplies and samples. Preparing patients for tests,surgery, and treatment among other functions. Additionally, they arealso actively involved in the keeping of records, assisting patientswith filling of forms, code procedures, insurance compensations, andother related office tasks. It is clear that in the absence of themedical office assistance, there is an increased chance thatoperations will go awry. As such, the medical assistants areoutstanding individuals tasked with irreplaceable duties, and theircommitment and professionalism are the keys to efficient healthcareservice delivery.


Responsibilitiesof a Medical Office Assistant

Itis widely stated that doctors are not required to perform officefunctions that a competent assistant can do even better. This ismainly because a lot of valuable time will be lost if the doctor didsuch things, for instance, receiving and making calls, makingappointments, checking patient flows, developing notices andschedules, typing and sending letters, billing, keeping records andattending to other duties and practices. To establish an efficientsystem and maintain professionalism, authority, responsibility andother office details must be allocated to the assistant. In this way,the practitioner’s time will be better utilized in performing hisspecialties which are treating the sick and maintaining the health ofothers. The delegated functions depend on a lot of factors such asthe hospital setting, experience, and training of the assistant andthe size of the staff in the facility. Based on this description,assistants are required to have knowledge of basic administrationprocedures, maintenance of office equipment, secretarial methods andbook-keeping techniques. Likewise, they have to be equipped withskills that enable patient care, assistance and providing direction[ CITATION Chr13 l 1033 ].This paper will discuss the responsibilitiesof a medical office assistant.

Administrationand Office Management

Undernormal circumstances, medical assistants are encouraged to possess ahigh school diploma before they can be selected for the actual work.Additionally, certification by the relevant bodies and an associatedegree in medical assistance are the likely preferences. The level ofeducation highlighted is an indication of what is expected of theassistants when it comes to the organizational part of the healthfacility. As such, the specific duties attached to administrationinclude letter writing and dissemination, preparation of schedulesand appointments, general office maintenance, controlling theinventories, calculation of patient fees, the establishment of agencypolicies and regulations, communication with the relevant involvedparties and filing. In this regard, the assistant must be able towork in close collaboration with his doctor to make sure that all thecommunications, schedules, appointments and office practices aretaken care of at the appropriate time. This works towards preventingaccumulation of tasks and confusion. A well-run administration notonly ensures the success of the practice but also improves serviceprovision. The people behind the scenes and desks, therefore, providethe much needed administrative support to guarantee patients of thehighest possible quality of care and amenities.

PatientReception and Intake

Anotherprimary responsibility of administrative medical assistants is towelcome patients or clients and proceed to help them with thefirst-hand paperwork. Most of the time patients experience a hardtime filling forms especially if it is their first time at the placeor if the format has changed. The general procedure for receptioninvolves the retrieval of patient files, filling forms and theconfirmation of insurance policy coverage. During this process, theassistant may need to make calls to appropriate offices for approval,schedule appointments for physical examination or lab tests andarranging for supplies. Where applicable, picking of lab samples mayhave to be organized. This is the reason as to why Mas are expectedto be conversant with clinical, administrative and laboratory aspectsof the hospital. Patient assistance doesn’t stop here, and a soloassistant will find himself performing technical duties and roles inaddition to the official ones. These include the recording of data,measurements, laboratory tests, X-ray procedures, provision ofparticular therapies as well as rehabilitation processes and clinicalaid. The extent of these additional clinical functions typicallydepends on the individual’s training and experience, the number ofstaff and the pre-existing state laws and policies. Finally, theassistant must also take an active role in the dismissal of patientsafter receiving the service for example showing the way out,assisting those with disabilities and ensuring smooth entry and exitof clients in a priority-oriented manner.

RecordKeeping and Insurance Processing

Oneof the most important section in any organization is the recordsdepartment. Without proper documentation, storage, and retrievalmechanisms, there will be considerable lag in the dissemination ofservices. As such, another important responsibility of medicalassistants is to maintain patient files and records. Also, they arerequired to process insurance claims of clients. In the contemporaryworld, the use of technology in electronic storage of health recordshas made work much easier. Various software and electronic databasesare employed, and the retrieval process is not something that takes alot of time. The modern training programs recommend the learning ofthe widely available HER software packages. On top of that, medicalassistants are also engaged in the input of insurance codes so thatthe patients can file claims for compensation. There is a lot of workwhen it comes to book-keeping, and the most important thing is thatdata entry must be performed as accurately as possible to avoidserious mistakes that may affect the patient or even the activitiesof the hospital at large.


Medicaloffice assistants are recognized as part and parcel of the AlliedHealth profession. As such, they are multi-skilled people in thehealth sphere and can work in diverse areas of the hospital setting.Due to this different job description, it is paramount that theassistants do their job in a proficient manner while at the same timeupholding professionalism. Blackmer (2011) highlights some of themost important professionalism practices discussed below:

AppropriateCustomer Service

Healthcaredelivery has become a competitive entity in the recent past. Sincepatients have several options for providers, it is important formedical assistants to understand the needs of the patients and lookfor ways of meeting these requirements in the best approach possible.Medical assistants are burdened with the ability to not only identifythese needs but also to satisfy them accordingly. An example is theprovision of assistance for persons with disabilities and ensures asafe process from intake to discharge.

Honestyand Integrity

Individualswho exhibit honesty and reliability can be easily trusted. Thisdescription is that of someone who is not willing to compromisevalues and quality. As such, a medical assistant must always be readyto do that which is right even when the conditions are morallyadverse. Also, when mistakes occur, the person must admit and acceptthe error while taking the necessary steps to correct and ensure nofuture repetition of the same takes place. The welfare of thepatients must always be the priority [ CITATION Can15 l 1033 ].


Skillrefers to the abilities and proficiency of an individual to performcertain tasks in the correct way without compromising the quality.Apparently, the medical assistants are required to not only show thisaptitude but also to be reliable. This is because the doctors dependon their craft to get things done appropriately and efficiently. Asthe assistants gain competency, they also get respect and trust fromthe management, and they can thus be private entities in serviceprovision.


Healthcareprovision is a field that is always undergoing insurmountablechanges, advancements, and improvements. As a medical assistant, oneneeds to have the ability and willingness to grasp issues quicklywhile exhibiting flexibility and adaptability to the continuouschanges. By doing this, the assistant will be more competitive withother organizations and keep up with current innovations. Anadaptable individual is one who can fill in for a sick colleague,deal with more than one patient and also thinking quickly and makingbest decisions during emergency scenarios. Furthermore, the assistantshould also stay up to date through continuous education.


Collaborationand close working relationships are professionalism traits that eachand every single medical assistant must consider as an integral partof their duties. This is mainly because the assistants are part of afine team from the receptionist all the way to consultation,diagnosis, coding, registry, and the laboratory. The individual mustbe able to have good working relationships, work in close cooperationwith others and cooperate efficiently with the fellow staff members.


Thisis a trait that is absent in many people. However, it is an elementthat improves professionalism, especially for medical practitioners.It involves having the strength to speak up in a nice way when thingsare not right and asking for assistance when help is needed.Additionally, colleagues should be praised, and positive criticismused when it comes to learning from mistakes and providingsuggestions. Likewise, handling patients may require a calmingindividual who is not only assertive but understanding and modest.Angry patients usually calm down when handled well. As the Holy Bibleputs it, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirsup anger” (Proverbs 15:1 New International Version).


Basedon the roles and responsibilities discussed above, it is clear thatcommunication is a big part not only in dealing with other staff butalso for educating patients. Procedures must be explained in theeasiest way possible, and the doctor must also be provided with thecorrect information about patients. This is a skill that cannot beoverlooked since unclear information can lead to fatal errors andmisunderstanding that could jeopardize the health of patients ordestroy working relationships [ CITATION Can15 l 1033 ].As such, the assistants should know the proper etiquette as anessential part of their duties. This skill may also include beingable to have a clear communication style even in high-stresssituations. Writing skills are part of communication, for example,the use of memos, emails, medical records, letters, bills, andspreadsheets. The medical assistant must, therefore, communicateusing both means appropriately.


Medicalassistants tend to interact with patients from a broad range ofbackground, culture, age and even illnesses. This means that theirdetails are known to the representative. It is imperative for suchpeople to put judgment and opinions concerning patients aside and onthe other hand, concentrate on listening, understanding and tendingto their needs.


Patientinformation must always be kept safe and secured. It is widely knownthat medical office assistants have unlimited access to healthcarerecords and financial information of patients. It is, therefore,their duty to make sure that patient privacy is protected throughconfidentiality. Sharing of such information puts the individual andthe entire medical setting at risk of litigation [ CITATION Wil151 l 1033 ].Likewise, patients who feel that their details are compromised maydecide to look for other facilities or file complaints with thegovernment authorities.


Medicaloffice assistants are valuable people in the health sector. Theirpresence ensures that tasks are completed efficiently. However, theyalso have to be careful as they partake their allocated duties tomake sure that there is no preventable harm to patients, that theysupport doctors and other staff and also for smooth facilityoperations.


Blackmer, J. (2011). Professionalism and the Medical Association. Canadian Medical Association, 6-38.

Canadian Medical Association. (2015). CMA Code of Ethics. Ottawa: Canadian Medical Association.

Eldridge, C. W. (2013). Expanding Roles of Medical Assistants in the Patient Centered Medical Home. Digital Commons, 4-37.

Wilson, C. B. (2015). Report on “Ethical Guidelines and Practices for U.S. Military Medical Professionals. World Medical Journal, 3-5.

Holy Bible: New International Version. (2011). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.