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What Happens in a Medical Front Office?

Article Details
  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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Some of the most common tasks that take place in a medical front office are similar to those that take place in other kinds of front offices. Such duties include opening and closing the office each day, answering telephones, and organizing and maintaining a filing system. Since a business’s front office and waiting room are often side-by-side, it’s easy for medical administrative staff to handle everyday kinds of front office duties like patient check-in, bill collecting, and appointment scheduling. Often, the medical front office takes care of other visitors, such as delivery staff and pharmaceutical representatives. Sometimes, the receptionists within a medical front office also help patients navigate from the waiting room to an exam room once it’s time for their appointment.

The medical administrative staff, or receptionists, will open and close the front office each day. Generally, these duties include opening the office at the beginning of the day, and starting all necessary systems for the office’s proper function. These might include turning on the phones and turning on computers and booting up the office’s computer systems. Receptionists might also be required to sort through mail, obtain signatures from appropriate staff, manage the cash register and even make bank deposits. Usually, receptionists are in charge of locking up the office at the end of the day.

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Throughout the day, receptionists in the medical front office help patients check in, as well as take their payments and schedule upcoming appointments before they leave. They also receive telephone calls, schedule and reschedule appointments as necessary, and verify each patient’s health insurance information. Sometimes, a receptionist might need to work with a patient’s health insurance company to determine what services are and are not covered.

Most medical front offices house a certain degree of both paper and electronic files, and typically the front office staff is in charge of organizing such files and retrieving them when necessary. This paperwork can include everything from patient forms to purchase receipts. Generally, medical front office personnel are in charge of setting up new patient files as well as updating current patient files and even closing out the files of past patients. Sometimes, receptionists need to fax, mail, or otherwise send patient files to another medical office. Many medical front offices handle billing operations, but if the office is too small or lacks the necessary equipment, the facility might have another separate office for billing matters.

Although the bulk of what happens in a medical front office is directly related to the patients, a good portion is dedicated to other visitors. Generally, receptionists in the front office are in charge of handling deliveries, whether those deliveries are of office or medical supplies. Medical administrative staff often deals with pharmaceutical representatives, too, although these people eventually speak with doctors and other medical personnel before business is completed.

Depending on the medical office’s system, the personnel working in the medical front office might assist patients in moving from the waiting room to the exam room. Sometimes, nurses are responsible for calling patients from the waiting room. If an office is particularly busy, though, or doesn’t have enough nurses on hand, the receptionist might alert a patient that his appointment is ready to begin and direct him where to go.

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