The New Medical Administrator
By Anya Martin | Monster Contributing Writer
Even with computerized appointment programs and electronic billing, Maria DiGrigoli manages much more paperwork than she had to when she started working as a medical administrative assistant 27 years ago. So why does she stick with this profession?
“I love helping people and working with doctors,” says DiGrigoli, office manager at Cedar Bridge Medical Associates, a six-physician family practice in Bricktown, New Jersey.
The very mention of referrals, precertification, medical records privacy and malpractice insurance renewals may raise fears in MBAs, lawyers and accountants. Yet all of these issues are now everyday challenges for the medical admin, who stubbornly battles bureaucracy on behalf of both doctors and patients.
Whether in a small practice or a large hospital, today’s medical admin is the glue that holds a medical office together.
When Beverly Stringer started as a unit clerk in a women’s health center 20 years ago, the most advanced technology tool she used was the telephone. All patient testing was ordered on handwritten forms that were hand-carried to the hospital lab or radiology department.
“There were days when I thought I ought to have been paid mileage,” Stringer says.
Today, these forms are sent via modem, and doctors may view X-rays on their computer screens. A sophisticated automated telephone system sorts routine calls away from Stringer, who is now an administrative secretary for the community relations department at Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth, Ohio.
More on Healthcare Administration
Salary: $55,320 - $125,988
Min. Education: Bachelor's
Related Careers: Health Information Technician & Technologist, Health Educator
The Growing Complexity of Insurance
On the downside, with the rise of managed care, myriad available insurance plans have prompted the need for admins to keep up with an ever-changing maze of rules and procedures. Investigating the reasons behind an unpaid bill may be a task worthy of Sherlock Holmes’s expertise.
Another big challenge for medical admins right now is complying with the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA), which specifies strict new guidelines for maintaining the confidentiality of medical information.
“Everybody is afraid of doing something wrong,” DiGrigoli says.