Skills Administrative Assistant, Medical near Vancouver (BC)

Find out what skills you typically need to work as an administrative assistant, medical in Canada. These skills are applicable to all Medical administrative assistants (NOC 1243).

Expertise

People working in this occupation usually apply the following skill set.

  • Interview patients to obtain case histories
  • Complete insurance and other claim forms
  • Arrange travel, related itineraries and make reservations
  • Determine and establish office procedures and routines
  • Supervise and train other staff in procedures and in use of current software
  • Initiate and maintain confidential medical files and records
  • Enter and format electronically based medical reports and correspondence and prepare spreadsheets and documents for review
  • Prepare draft agendas for meetings and take, transcribe and distribute minutes

Skills and knowledge

The following skills and knowledge are usually required in this occupation.

Essential skills

See how the 9 essential skills apply to this occupation.

Reading
  • Read text entries in administrative and reporting forms, e.g. read an intake form to learn about a patient's symptoms. (2)
  • Read short handwritten notes from co-workers and other health care professionals, e.g. read a lab technician's comments about a test result to determine how urgent it is for a doctor to review the file. (2)
  • Read pamphlets, posters and other publications, e.g. read a pamphlet describing alternate treatments for prostate cancer in order to answer patients' questions about tests and procedures. (2)
  • Read catalogues and brochures, e.g. read brochures to learn the features of dental administration management software. (2)
  • Read memos and email, e.g. read memos from supervisors about changes to hours of operation and email from community health nurses seeking information about the number of patients on waiting lists. (2)
  • Read bulletins, notices, fact sheets, supplements, updates and health alerts, e.g. read notices from provincial ministries of health to learn about new billing procedures. (3)
  • Read a variety of manuals, e.g. read manuals to learn how to use administration management software to produce invoices, file claims, schedule appointments and track accounts receivable and payable. (3)
  • Read textbooks, e.g. read textbooks to learn medical terminology and the uniform pronunciation, definition and spelling of terms used by health care professionals. (4)
  • May read agreements, e.g. read medical insurance policies to learn about reimbursable services and procedures and amounts claimable. (4)
Document use
  • Locate data from labels on files, containers and products, e.g. view labels on file tabs to locate patients' names and health insurance numbers. (1)
  • Locate data in schedules, lists and tables, e.g. view schedules to locate available appointment times. (2)
  • Enter data into lists, tables and schedules, e.g. enter stock counts into inventory control tables and patients' names and phone numbers into appointment schedules. (2)
  • Locate data in entry forms, e.g. locate the names of vendors, quantities, dates, prices, sales taxes and other data in supplier invoices. (3)
  • Complete complex forms, e.g. complete medical insurance claim forms by entering information, such as names, addresses, diagnoses, codes, dates, fees and group numbers. (3)
Writing
  • Write reminders and short notes, e.g. write short entries in administrative forms to record the outcomes of procedures. (1)
  • Write email to co-workers, health care professionals, colleagues and patients, e.g. write email messages to schedule meetings and respond to enquiries and requests. (2)
  • Write minutes of office and medical team meetings, e.g. write meeting minutes to summarize discussions, record decisions made and note items requiring follow-up. (2)
  • Write letters, e.g. write a letter outlining dates of future appointments so a patient can take a leave of absence from work. (2)
  • May write procedures and guidelines, e.g. may write sequenced instructions to describe the steps software users have to follow when using a particular application. (3)
Numeracy
  • Count cash and give patients change for cash payments for exams and procedures not covered by health insurance plans. (1)
  • Measure the length of time it takes medical professionals to consult with their patients. (1)
  • Compare inventory counts of medical supplies to required levels. (1)
  • Estimate the times health care professionals will spend with patients during appointments, using past experience as a guide. (1)
  • Schedule appointments. They consider the availability of equipment and the required health care professionals. (2)
  • Calculate performance indicators, such as the average number of health care procedures completed per day, week and month. (2)
  • Calculate and verify invoice and receipt amounts, e.g. calculate amounts to be claimed from health insurance plans by applying charges, discounts and applicable taxes. (3)
  • May calculate amounts for debit and credit transactions, accounts receivable and payable, bank reconciliations and summaries in general ledgers. (3)
  • May calculate amounts for payroll, utility and tax accounts, e.g. may calculate payroll amounts using hours worked, rates of pay, federal and provincial income taxes, contributions to pension plans and employment insurance rates. (3)
  • May prepare and verify monthly financial statements, such as balance sheets, income and expense statements and statements of cash flows. (3)
  • May collect and analyze operational data, e.g. collect and analyze data on the number of services performed to help doctors understand the needs of their patients. (3)
Oral communication
  • Exchange information with co-workers and colleagues, e.g. speak with co-workers in other departments to request patient radiographs, blood test results and medical records. (1)
  • May talk to suppliers about product specifications, price quotes, service options and delivery times for office and medical equipment, materials and supplies. (2)
  • Interact with patients and their relatives, e.g. interview patients and their families to complete forms, such hospital admission applications and insurance claims. (2)
  • Participate in group discussions, e.g. participate in a staff meeting to discuss workloads, plan work schedules and coordinate examining room usage. (2)
  • May instruct co-workers in office procedures and use of software, e.g. provide detailed step-by-step instructions to co-workers on the use of specialized business management software. (3)
Thinking
  • Select patients to fill cancelled appointments. They may use a first-come, first-served rule or assign priorities to patients based on the severity of their health conditions. (1)
  • Encounter walk-in patients who do not have appointments. They speak with the patients about their condition and schedule an emergency appointment if necessary or suggest they go to an urgent care facility or hospital. (2)
  • Encounter delays due to equipment failures. They refer to user manuals to troubleshoot equipment faults. If they are unable to repair the equipment, they ask co-workers for assistance and call repair technicians. (2)
  • May select tasks to assign to other medical administrative assistants. They consider individual availability, strengths, weaknesses and work experience. (2)
  • May choose suppliers for medical and office products and services. They take into account factors, such as budgets and anticipated needs. (2)
  • May select a payment schedule for a patient with an overdue account. They consider factors, such as amount owed and their firmâ¿¿s history with the patient. (2)
  • Evaluate the quality of products and services provided by suppliers. They determine which ones offer the best prices, service options and delivery times. (2)
  • Assess the accuracy and reasonableness of financial reports generated using accounting software. They compare data to previous reports and use their experience to identify potential errors. (2)
  • Take phone calls from patients, handle front desk reception and assist co-workers with tasks, such as photocopying and faxing. They receive direction from their supervisors and the health care professionals who employ them. They have some scope to order their tasks, as long as they respect priorities set by their employers. (2)
  • Find the addresses and telephone numbers of doctors' offices, hospitals, medical clinics and other health care establishments by asking co-workers, scanning phone lists and directories and searching the Canada 411 website. (2)
  • Find the spelling and meaning of medical terms they are not familiar with by asking co-workers and searching medical dictionaries and websites. (2)
  • Find information about patients' appointments, treatments and billings by looking up patients' files and searching databases. (2)
  • May find information on medical and office products and services by contacting suppliers and searching their websites. (2)
  • Are confronted by verbally abusive patients. They talk to the verbally abusive person in a firm and assertive voice to calm them down and seek the assistance of co-workers and supervisors as required. (3)
  • Encounter inaccurate financial records. They review cheques issued, deposits made and debits and credits shown both in journal entries and on bank statements. If they discover errors generated by bank computers, they advise bank representatives. (3)
  • May choose or recommend methods and procedures for handling delinquent accounts. They may write off bad debts, use collection agencies or pursue debtors in small claims courts. They need to consider several factors to make appropriate choices. (3)
  • Assess the suitability of equipment and software. They identify performance criteria and gather and analyze specifications and expert opinions. (3)
Digital technology
  • Use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software to record financial transactions. (1)
  • Use calculators and personal digital assistant (PDA) devices to complete numeracy-related tasks, such as summing figures and calculating charges. (1)
  • Use electronic office equipment, such as printers, scanners, fax machines, copiers and postage meters. (1)
  • Use databases to enter, retrieve and print patients' appointment, treatment and billing data from hospital and clinic databases. (2)
  • Use the Internet to access online banking services. (2)
  • Use browsers and search engines to locate product information, such as the cost of supplies from suppliers. (2)
  • May use the Internet to access training courses and seminars offered by book publishers, suppliers, employers and trainers. (2)
  • Use spreadsheets to monitor inventory and third party billings. (2)
  • Use spreadsheets to track expenditures, such as the cost of office supplies and the amortization of office equipment. (2)
  • Use intranets and email applications to exchange information and documents with co-workers, patients and suppliers. (2)
  • Use CD-ROMS and DVDS to access studyware programs, such as medical terminology training. (2)
  • Use advanced features of word processing programs to write, edit and format text for letters, faxes, procedures, guidelines, meeting agendas and minutes. (3)
  • Use specialized office management software to create patients' files, perform automatic insurance billing, schedule patients for multiple practitioners, control inventories, compute practice profile statistics and track financial accounts. (3)
  • Use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software to prepare pay cheques, invoices and monthly financial statements, such as balance sheets and income and expense statements. (3)
Additional informationWorking with Others

Medical administrative assistants perform some tasks independently but coordinate their work with that of doctors, dentists, nurses and other health care practitioners and with other administrative assistants. They interact with health care professionals to plan appointment schedules, forward messages and obtain directions on job tasks. They exchange information with nurses and other health care practitioners. They may supervise and train other administrative assistants.

Continuous Learning

Medical administrative assistants continually need to update their knowledge of office and health care products, materials, equipment and procedures. They need to master new technologies, such as appointment scheduling and health care office management software. On a day-to-day basis, they acquire new learning through discussion with supervisors and co-workers, by browsing the Internet and by reading government bulletins, supplier brochures and software user manuals. They also attend software training courses and seminars on topics, such as medical terminology and billing practices.

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