Medical Practice Management
Medical practice management is a relatively new field. Long ago managers were not used in medicine. Doctors generally worked as independent entities, running their practices as they deemed best. The advent of government-mandated health care regulations initiated a change in how doctors worked. Suddenly, their methods and actions needed to be accounted for. The introduction of insurance companies and government-funded Medicare and Medicaid programs further complicated the delivery of health care. Paperwork became a huge part of the job and doctors increasingly found themselves spending more time on filling out forms than on actual patient care. Moreover, many doctors found themselves bewildered by the processes and policies. Medical schools did not provide any training in these matters and most doctors were ill-equipped to take them on. More and more medical practitioners began hiring someone to handle these responsibilities so they could get back to doing what they were trained to do. Over time the role has grown and expanded to take on all aspects of running a medical practice (outside of treating patients) to become what we know of today as medical practice management.
Urgent Need for Medical Management Professionals
Today, every medical office, urgent care clinic, hospital, nursing facility, and home care agency has at least one employee devoted to practice management. The function of the medical practice manager is simple: to maximize the quality of patient care by creating an efficient and cost-effective atmosphere. While that may not sound too difficult, the reality is quite different. Practice management is a challenging career full of unique problems and obstacles. That said, it is also a highly rewarding career. People working in the field have the satisfaction of knowing their daily job contributes to the health and well-being of others. Additionally, it is a job with a competitive salary and great benefits.
To take on a job in medical management, it is important to have the right training and skills. Medical organizations require at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field and many also demand completion of a master’s degree. Most offices also prefer candidates with experience working in the medical field, as it ensures the person has a working knowledge of medical terminology and an understanding of how medical offices operate. Continuing education and certifications are also important when pursuing a job in medical practice management.
Many medical practices also require those interested in working in management to complete a medical practice exam. These exams test individuals on their knowledge of practice management to prove they have the comprehensive understanding of the job needed for success. Taking any examination can be stressful, particularly one that has the potential to greatly impact job opportunities. Taking the time to study will greatly increase the probability of success. Moreover, studying is valuable not only for passing the exam, but also serves as further preparation for actually doing the work. Employers know the effort required to prepare and pass medical practice exams and value the commitment shown by individuals who take them.
Practice Management Offers A Wide Variety of Careers
Medical practice management is needed in a wide variety of different settings. Hospitals are some of the largest employer in this field. Each department (i.e. radiology, oncology, laboratory services, pediatrics, etc.) has at least one manager to oversee daily operations, as well as hospital-wide medical managers who coordinate the activities of the individual departments and ensure all are working toward a common goal.
Health care clinics are also in need of skilled practice management professionals. Clinics generally see patients without prescheduled appointments. This necessitates special attention to staff scheduling, making sure enough staff is on hand to handle periods of large patient volume but not having too much staff present so they are sitting around without work. It is a unique problem that the medical practice manager must constantly stay on top of to keep the clinic running smoothly. An often forgotten area of practice management is home health agencies. Home health agencies provide a multitude of health care services to ill or infirm patients in their own homes. Everything from nursing care to medical equipment maintenance is offered. The medical practice manager of a home health agency is responsible for making sure the correct health care professional is in the right place at the right time. It is a job requiring extremely precise organizational skills. In addition to these settings there are a wide variety of medical specialties to choose from for those working in practice management. There are offices specializing in cardiology, otolaryngology, obstetrics, orthodontics, and so much more. Clearly there is an opportunity for every individual interested in this profession.
On top of that, the field is always expanding. As the population continues to grow and the average life span increases, more medical practices are needed. The constant changes in health care policy and insurance laws have also increased the demand for medical practice management professionals. It is a field with lots of opportunities and a bright future.