What Happens in a Medical Back Office?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

In a medical back office, technicians perform basic procedures and specimen collection, and may have space for a lab to perform some in-house testing. This differs from the front office, where administrative staff handle scheduling, patient intake, and related matters. Qualifications to work in a medical back office can vary, but usually require some training and certification in medical assisting. Supervisors usually have more advanced training to allow them to monitor less experienced personnel when they perform procedures.

A medical back office assistant may be tasked with ordering supplies.
A medical back office assistant may be tasked with ordering supplies.

When patients seek medical attention, a doctor or other clinician can perform an examination to determine what kinds of procedures and treatments the patient may need. If the patient needs a procedure, the back office can provide appropriate services, ranging from irrigation of the ear canal to a blood draw to take a sample for testing. Moving the patient to the back office can provide access to more tools and equipment as well as free an exam room for the next patient.

Access to the medical back office is usually limited to necessary personnel and patients receiving care. All areas need to be kept sterile and organized. Patients may request escorts if they would feel more comfortable with a companion, and also have the right to bring interpreters or aides, if necessary. In the back office, the patient sits or lies on a chair or table for treatment, and may see several members of the medical staff, depending on what needs to be done.

The medical back office may have imaging equipment for diagnostic imaging studies or procedures where image guidance is necessary, like an ultrasound to assist with needle aspiration biopsies. It may be possible to perform minor surgeries in the back office, and the doctor can also place stitches, check wounds, and engage in other similar activities in this area of the clinic. The type of equipment and procedures available can depend on the facility and its area of practice.

Medical back office operations may include some lab work to allow a clinic to quickly turn around results on basic tests. Patients are not usually allowed in the lab area, which may be supervised by a lab technician or clinician. For quick, basic tests, the personnel can conduct testing while the patient is still in the clinic. This can yield very fast results that may have a bearing on an examination or the treatment plan for the patient. It may be necessary to send some samples out for more complex analysis at a full lab.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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