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What does a Medical Specialist do?

By A. Rohlandt
Updated May 17, 2024
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A medical specialist works in a healthcare office, usually a clinic or private practice, and is tasked with any number of support duties. These duties may include records management, billing and insurance processing, transcription and other tasks which do not require a licensed healthcare provider. The specialist may perform many different tasks depending on the size of the office. The specialist may be required to answer phones, greet patients and interview a new patients for contact information.

Records management and clerical support functions performed by the office medical specialist are usually similar to those of an administrative assistant in a non-healthcare setting. Scheduling, filing and customer service make up the majority of the workload. Medical records contain sensitive and confidential information, and laws regarding the release of that information vary from place to place. The specialist is required to process requests for information in accordance with the law.

A medical specialist will work under the supervision of a doctor in an office. He or she will assist the nursing staff in managing patient flow through personal interaction and the handling of paperwork. In a hospital, medical specialists typically work under the direction of the charge nurse, managing patient charts and coordinating the transport of patients to various departments, such as radiology or physical therapy. The specialist may also route inquiries from doctors and family members to the appropriate nurse.

Billing and coding duties are essential for processing payments and meeting regulatory criteria. Public health programs and private insurers have established a coding system as a type of shorthand to record diagnoses and procedures in medical and billing records. A medical insurance specialist is responsible for the accurate coding and submission of claims for reimbursement. He or she may also be responsible for billing the patient for charges that are not covered by insurance.

If the practice or clinic does in-house transcription, a medical specialist known as a transcriptionist is responsible for taking the doctor’s verbal or written notes and typing them into an electronic database or creating a transcribed hard copy. This is a very specialized field as the terminology can be quite complex. Hospitals and large clinics may employ medical specialists for this job directly, but many contract with a service. Medical transcriptionists may work from home as an employee or as an independent contractor.

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