Rationale: Every medical facility will have its own style of cataloging patient information. These are known as filing procedures. Smaller facilities may not have the ability to convert patient related documentation into a digital format, so the process will most likely be alphabetical and possibly by year of last visit. In the event that the facility utilizes digital documentation, it is much easier to find the appropriate documents when required. Patients are either tracked with their name, birth date, or they are given an accession number or special identification number that separates them from other people who may share the same name. This filing system requires that all documents be scanned at the time of the patient’s visit, and digitally stored under the appropriate patient identification.
Rationale: For patients that are attempting to find a new primary care physician, their first contact with the new facility is typically the phone call. Answering a telephone may seem like a skill that is easy to disregard, but hearing a polite tone on the line can be a very engaging, calming allure. This is called telephone professionalism. Every medical facility has its own preferred style to answering the phone, and consistency is the key to imparting maximum professionalism. Generally, you answer the phone by saying, “Hello, Happy Day Medical Facility, my name is John Medicine, how may I help you today?” This lets them know the facility name, and name of the person helping them, and that you are the one that will be assisting them. This may seem self explanatory, but it is an often overlooked and very necessary skill for all successful businesses. For difficult patients on the phone, stay calm, and when in doubt, direct the call to the manager on staff to resolve volatile situations.
Rationale: There is an expectation that you will be involved with some heavy moments in an emergency room. But, even in a physician’s office or urgent care, you must know how to handle yourself in times of emergency care. It is a requirement to be proficient in CPR and AED skills when working in medical facilities. CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is an act used to revive a person that currently is not breathing and/or has no obtainable pulse. This works by compressing the chest to make the heart continue pumping and by breathing into the patient’s lungs to keep some amount of oxygen entering their system. AED’s, automated external defibrillators, are used to attempt and shock a patient’s heart back into rhythm.
patient's medical chart
Rationale: Every ounce of information collected from the patient must be placed into the patient’s medical chart for future reference. This is critical because you are compiling an extensive point of investigation for all maladies and illnesses that may befall the patient down the road. Any clues or consistencies that can be demonstrated in the long term collection of a medical chart can give the physician an invaluable resource for the specific needs of that patient. The medical chart will hold all vital statistics, diagnoses, patient histories, and lab results that the patient has received in the time they have visited your facility.
General X-ray Machine Operator
Rationale: One of the most common certifications that an MA can obtain to augment their abilities is a GXMO certification. GXMO stands for General X-ray Machine Operator. This allows the MA to take diagnostic imaging using x-ray equipment. GXMO training requires that you become comfortable with radiation physics, operation of x-ray equipment, anatomy and physiology, and the precise positioning required to take x-ray images of every part of the human body. Because of the radiation risks involved, you must take classes and pass a state regulated examination. Once completed, clinical modality courses must also be taken to be state registered in the specific areas of the body that you need to x-ray.
Rationale: Patients will come to your facility with different expectations on what their role is in their own treatment. It is occasionally an expectation that you call in a prescription to the patient’s preferred pharmacy. This will require that you be comfortable with reading and understanding the language and terminology used on a physician’s prescription (also known as a Rx). You may also receive calls from pharmacies requiring you to translate a Rx that they have received from your facility. Physicians do not have the best reputation for legible handwriting, so this may come up often.
Heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, temperature, and blood oxygen level
Rationale: Taking a patient’s vital signs is as commonplace as it gets in the medical assistant’s profession. Every patient that enters your facility will get their vital signs taken. This will entail getting a patient’s blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, even their blood oxygen level. Some facilities will require you to get an up to date height and weight for each patient. This will give the physician a quick and accurate assessment as to the current condition of the patient physiologically. Vital signs coupled with the patient history are the precursors to their entire examination.
Rationale: For patients that require more information in the resolution of their condition, lab procedures are ordered to obtain the answer. Lab work can involve the collection of urine for urinalysis tests, cultures, or pregnancy testing. Venipuncture may be used to collect blood in vials for lab processing. Blood can also be collected in tiny tubules for in-house testing such as rapid HIV tests, mononucleosis tests, and blood glucose test kits. ECG’s will be ordered on patients that complain of chest pain or tightness. This will require the MA to attach leads to the patient at 5, 7, or 12 different points (depending on the ECG machine), and get a heart rhythm printout for the physician. Throat cultures can be taken from a patient to rule out strep throat. Labs require the MA to be proficient in many areas and ready to perform in a moment’s notice.
Digital scheduling system
Rationale: For medical assistants that work for primary care physicians and medical offices, appointment scheduling will be a part of their every day routine. It will pay to familiarize you with the scheduling format at the facility. Smaller facilities may use a manual routine by handwriting in a calendar made of specific documents. More modern and up-to-date facilities will more than likely use a digital scheduling system to assist them with setting up appointments. The main advantage of appointment scheduling versus first come first serve, is the ability to not only avoid patient overlap, but to keep the appointments scheduled tightly throughout the day to maximize patient contact. This optimizes the business that your facility can produce every day.
Rationale: At smaller medical facilities, the medical assistant may play a large role with both administrative and clinical duties. A large part of the administrative duties is being able to handle the aspects of health insurance, and help the patients understand what their part is in the transaction. As healthcare and hospital services have become more technical and expensive, it can challenge a medical assistant to remain calm when translating the policies for certain patients. The patient is responsible for paying a copay at the time of service. This copay is a requirement from the health insurance company. In exchange for this copay, the health insurance helps make everything from well checks to surgeries more affordable than they would be otherwise without the insurance. Without the insurance, the expectation would be that the patient would be responsible for repaying 100% of the total cost. This makes health insurance a necessity in today’s modern society.