Bookkeeping for Medical Assistants: Six Tips to Help Your Office Practice

Article Categories: Other & Administration

Unlike other healthcare careers, Medical Assistants are the only professionals who can provide direct patient care and also serve as office administrators. This unique combination of skills can give Medical Assistants an advantage in the workplace.

During training, an MA learns how to provide administrative support for the medical practice. From front desk responsibilities, such as scheduling and greeting patients, to maintaining records, and filing insurance claims, Medical Assistants play an important role in keeping things running smoothly.

In some small offices, a Medical Assistant may have responsibilities as a bookkeeper. A bookkeeper records business transactions such as purchases, collecting payments or fees, and paying bills. Sometimes, the MA may also do payroll. Financial software, such as Quicken, helps the MA know which categories to use, as well as, an accurate running balance for easy reference.

If accounting and bookkeeping are part of your duties, here are some suggestions from Western Washington University, College of Business and Economics, in Bellingham, WA:

1. Establish a payment policy: Many offices display a sign saying “Payment is due at the time of services.” While the patient’s insurance will be billed, co-pays or deductibles should be collected at the time of appointments. The American Academy of Family Practitioners encourages all medical practices to have a policy in place so patients are clear on when to pay.

2. Pay invoices slowly: Give attention to the terms of payment from vendors. If the vendor has a 45-day window, pay a day or two before. It is very important to pay all bills on time, but by not paying too early, you can keep funds in the bank.

3. Keep track of inventory: It’s tempting to have a generous inventory of supplies, so there’s never a panic, or a sudden order that involves an extra delivery fee. But too much inventory can mean that supplies can expire--and that means money that could be spent in other ways. Another downside of too much inventory: It can lead to a risk of employee theft.

4. Shop around: If you oversee purchasing, you can really help your medical practice by finding the best vendors for your supplies. Of course you want good quality. Some vendors will be glad to bundle supplies at a discount. Don’t assume that former vendors are the most economical.

5. Record all expenses: Repeat: ALL expenses. Besides direct expenses, such as rent and utilities, every item needs to be tracked. Equipment, repairs, printer cartridges, even bathroom supplies must be recorded. Over time, you may detect trends in how money is spent...and how it could be saved.

6. Partner with an accountant: Every practice needs to have an accountant to handle complex transactions, such as filing taxes and audits. Everyday tasks can be done by a bookkeeper, but an accountant should be available for consulting and legal matters.

Every medical practice depends on a solid financial foundation. As a key member of the team, a good administrative Medical Assistant helps ensure long-term success for everyone.

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