Medical Office Manager
Medical office managers are the coordinators who oversee the daily delivery of medical and health services. These professionals may also be called health care administrators, health care executives, or medical and health services managers. They may manage services for an entire facility, a specific department, or an individual physician or group of physicians.
What does a medical office manager do?
The daily duties of a medical office manager cover several crucial areas, including:
- Preparing operational budgets and managing accounts payable
- Overseeing the claims processing and accounts receivables systems to ensure timely cash flow
- Consulting with actuaries, accountants, and attorneys regarding all financial matters
- Reviewing and negotiating managed care contracts
- Revising personnel policies and procedures, job specifications, staff performance evaluation methods, and other personnel related forms and records
- Making hiring, performance, and disciplinary determinations and maintaining all permanent personnel files
- Creating a work environment that encourages growth and development of employees
- Assisting in the development of short and long term strategic plans for the practice
- Directing outside services and products, such as accounting, equipment, and legal services
- Working with physicians and staff to implement clinic goals and objectives
- Directing marketing and promotional activities for the practice
Communications and patient relations
- Ensuring that regular meetings are held with physicians to discuss the status of practice operations and review financial data
- Scheduling regular staff meetings to inform the staff of changes in the practice's policies, update and educate staff, and resolve and/or prevent problems
- Listening to patient concerns and finding ways to increase patient satisfaction
How to become a medical office manager
Medical office manager training programs can help provide students with the skills to pursue a career in this growing health care field. From the undergraduate to graduate level, a wide range of programs are available to students, whether they already have a degree or are just starting their college education.
- Typically, a bachelor's degree in health administration is needed to enter the field. This four-year degree helps students learn about health technology, as well as how to manage a health care facility.
- Post-baccalaureate certificates are also available to help students compete for medical office manager jobs. Typically comprised of six to seven courses, they include training at the graduate level for students who are not fully committed to or ready for a master's degree program. A number of schools offer these certificates online. In some instances, these certificates can later be applied toward a master's degree.
- The master's degree in health administration can help strengthen a professional's ability to deliver health care services in their facility. If a student has a bachelor's degree in another field, they might also want to pursue a master's degree in health administration, which typically takes two to three years to complete.
- A post-master's certificate in health administration is available as well, and could be useful to students who want to enter the field, but already have a master's degree in another, somewhat related field. In some cases, these certificates can also allow students to pursue specializations.
- Doctoral degrees are available to professionals who want to take their education to the terminal level, or most advanced degree stage possible. At this level, professionals may find various opportunities available to them, including the option to enter an executive-based program, pursue inter-professional studies, or even learn more about information studies.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a college education is important to be able to compete for the higher-level management jobs available in health care. Without a full degree, students may lack the skills necessary to pursue health care management positions.
Classes in a medical office management program often include both instructional and applied learning. Although specific courses will vary from program to program and depend upon the degree type pursued, much of the focus on management should be similar, prioritizing fundamental learning with leadership skills. Topics typically covered in a medical office manager training program include:
- Finance for health care
- Health care policy and economics
- Human resources development and management
- Organization and management for health care
- Quality and risk management in health care
A capstone class may also be required so that students can synthesize all of their learning and knowledge into one end-of-the-program project, and demonstrate they have met specific learning outcomes or competencies. Some master's programs also require students to gain real-life experiences in the form of an internship, often just a 3-credit course that gives them hands-on administrative knowledge in health care settings.
Medical office manager certification
One of the most relevant certifications for this field is the Certified Medical Manager certification offered by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM). While not a requirement for all positions, this nationally recognized certification helps increase credibility by ensuring employers that the health care office management professional is competent and excels in this profession. To earn the title "Certified Medical Manager" one must pass a three-hour written exam that evaluates his/her knowledge of 18 areas of practice administration.
To qualify to sit for the exam, an individual must have a minimum of three years of experience in the health care field, 12 credit hours of courses pertinent to health care or business management, and be a member of PAHCOM in good standing. The education requirement is reduced by one hour for every year's worth of experience above the three-year requirement.
To maintain certification as a Certified Medical Manager, 24 hours of continuing education units must be completed every two years. Most educational sessions, seminars, and courses qualify for CEU credit, so long as they are applicable to the responsibilities of an office management professional.
Career and salary information
The BLS reports that job opportunities for medical and health service managers are projected to grow by 17 percent from 2014 to 2024. This growth is much faster than the national average for all occupations combined, and could result in the creation of more than 56,300 new jobs during this time, according to the BLS.
Reasons for this growth include an increase in the number of doctors and medical workers needed to provide services to the aging Baby Boomer population, which will consequently lead to a need for more medical office managers to help oversee staff and sites.
Wages for medical and health service managers depend on a variety of factors, including experience and geographic location. According to the BLS, the mean annual wage for medical and health service managers was $103,680 as of May 2014, which is significantly more than the mean annual wage of $47,230 for all occupations in the U.S. combined.
The highest-paying locations for medical and health service managers (based on mean annual wages) include:
- Washington D.C.: $131,160
- California: $122,410
- New York: $121,930
- Connecticut: $117,680
- New Jersey: $115,370
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration, Kaplan University, http://www.kaplanuniversity.edu/health-sciences/health-care-administration-bachelor-degree.aspx
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Medical and Health Services Managers, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes119111.htm
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Medical and Health Services Managers, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/medical-and-health-services-managers.htm#tab-6
- Doctor of Health Administration Programs, Medical University of South Carolina, http://academicdepartments.musc.edu/chp/dha/
- Master of Health Administration, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, http://publichealth.uncc.edu/degrees-and-programs/phs-graduate-programs/master-health-administration-mha
- Online Bachelor's Degree in Healthcare Administration and Management, Colorado State University, https://csuglobal.edu/undergraduate/programs/bachelors-degrees/healthcare-administration-and-management/courses/
- PAHCOM, Certified Medical Manager, https://www.pahcom.com/cmm/overview.html
- Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Health Care Management, Texas Women's University, http://www.twu.edu/health-care-administration/certificate-program.asp