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What is a Medical Administrative Specialist?

Hillary Flynn
Updated May 17, 2024
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A medical administrative specialist is an office administrator who has specialized skills relating to the health field. This position was known at one time as a medical secretary, but as secretarial positions have evolved into more technical, specialized positions, the official name has evolved to reflect the increasing responsibility of the job as well. An administrative specialist in any capacity performs clerical tasks and manages office files, systems, and most of the daily functions required of office personnel. A medical administrative specialist performs all of these tasks, but must also have extensive knowledge of the medical field.

These specialists may work at a hospital, for a doctor in private practice, at a medical research facility, or for a state health department. The focus of a position may be in a specific area such as insurance billing or patient records, depending on the environment in which one chooses to work. Though each position may require specific medical knowledge, the general areas a specialist should be proficient in are medical communication and new office technologies that apply to those in the health field.

Many administrative professionals serve as the communication hub for an office or organization. This means it is their responsibility to keep abreast of changes in procedures and disseminate this information to staff. In a medical environment, it is essential for a medical administrative specialist to have a working knowledge of medical terminology in order to understand and properly communicate this type of vital information.

The specialist must also understand medical procedures, insurance billing practices, and laboratory procedures and tests. Health information is private and it's important that a medical administrative specialist knows what information is especially sensitive. This ensures that patients are not embarrassed or uncomfortable by mention of delicate topics in front of others.

The technical aspects of this job may include transcribing medical records, applying insurance codes in computerized billing systems, and managing a patient appointment scheduling system. Some jobs require knowledge of specialized electronic insurance systems such as Medicaid, and other jobs require advanced skills in mainstream office software. Since many physicians attend conferences and lectures to keep up with advancements in the medical field, some specialists spend a lot of time doing academic research and preparing presentations.

All medical administrative specialists must be proficient on a computer. All must be familiar with standard operating procedures for a medical office, and all must be familiar with medical terms. The most advanced medical administrative specialists will also vast knowledge in one or more medical specializations.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Hillary Flynn
By Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn's insatiable curiosity led her to join the WiseGeek team, where she contributes well-researched articles on various topics. In addition to her work with WiseGeek, Hillary manages an electronic publishing business that allows her to develop her skills in technical writing, graphic design, and business development. With a passion for satirical writing and traveling to historical places, Hillary brings a distinctive voice to her content.
Discussion Comments
By Azuza — On Jun 01, 2012

A good friend of mine works as a medical coding specialist, so she's pretty up to date on new developments in the medical field. From what she tells me, it's extremely important for medical administrative specialists to have good computer skills.

More and more doctor's offices are switching over to electronic medical records. That means that their staff members need to know how to use a computer, but also learn how to use specialized software.

So if you're looking into this as a job, make sure your training program includes classes about electronic medical records.

By KaBoom — On May 31, 2012

@JaneAir - Yeah, medical office administration is definitely different than doing administration in a business office. And I think these days it's even more specialized than it used to be!

When I was growing up, my friend's mom was a medical secretary (they still called it that when I was growing up.) From what I remember, she didn't have any special training, she learned on the job.

I was looking for a job awhile back and I remember seeing some medical administrative specialist jobs listed. However, most of the doctor's offices that were advertising for help wanted someone with certification and/or specialized training!

By JaneAir — On May 30, 2012

I was looking into going into administrative medical assistant jobs at one time, so I took a few introductory classes to see if it was for me. Let me tell you, the article wasn't joking: you definitely need specialized knowledge of the medical field to do this job.

Obviously you need some basic office skills too, but the medical knowledge is really important. You need to know a little bit about insurance and you definitely need to know how a doctors office works so you can schedule appointments. It is a way more complicated job than it looks like it is!

Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn
Hillary Flynn's insatiable curiosity led her to join the WiseGeek team, where she contributes well-researched articles...
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