Blind Spots: Four Overlooked Positions You Should Consider Filling
Every private practice is faced with the same dilemma: to hire, or not to hire? Will filling more positions increase efficiency, or will it eat up too much of the budget? Will loading more and more responsibility onto current staff leave them overworked, and irritable, leading to a decrease in care quality? Every practice is different, and this decision is ultimately made by matching your practice’s statistics to various industry averages, a process called Benchmarking. But while it is true that numbers don’t lie, as with many fields, they don’t tell the whole story.
Going forward, there will be a demand for a variety of new, or often overlooked positions to fill, not just in hospitals or big laboratories, but in private practices as well. Medical technology continues to advance at a rapid pace. An entire generation is now entering old age, and require more frequent doctor visits, while practices continue to see an influx of non-English speaking patients. The number of daily visits alone can be overwhelming, the information difficult to keep track of due to time constraints and other factors. Here is a list of some invaluable positions you should consider adding to your team, or reconsider cutting from it, to keep up with these challenges:
Healthcare interpreters act as communication liaisons between doctors and LEP (Limited English Proficiency) patients. The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in LEP patient care. If too great a language barrier exists, it is all but impossible for doctors, PAs, and nurses to provide high quality care. A healthcare interpreter’s usefulness also extends beyond face to face translation. They often provide both written, and oral translation of basic health care documents into the patient’s language, and can interpret over the phone or through video for patients, or their family members. Healthcare interpreters can also educate other members of the healthcare team on the various functions and standards relative to healthcare interpreting. Thus, their dual roles as employee and office resource make them a valuable asset.
Medical Equipment Repair Specialist
In the past, it has been easy enough to troubleshoot and fix minor issues with medical equipment or software onsite. But with time always at a premium, and with technology becoming increasingly advanced and complex, relying on a “Jack-of-all-trades”, or someone with an outdated skill-set to get the job done is no longer efficient, or recommended. Repair specialists must have specific training in fields such as biomedical equipment technology or engineering to adequately service machinery, as well as a thorough understanding of medical database software. A medical equipment repairer works with a variety of electronic, electromechanical, and hydraulic equipment, including patient monitors, defibrillators, medical imaging equipment, voice-controlled operating tables, and electric wheelchairs. The benefits of having a well-trained repair specialist on-call are obvious.
A medical transcriptionist’s job is to transcribe recordings via tape, digital system, or voice file, and then generate reports and other materials from it. At first glance, this position may seem, if not bit trivial, then low on the latter of importance. But the job requires strong listening and language skills, along with computer skills and knowledge of medical terms. A medical transcriptionist must have a sharp eye grammatical, and consistency errors. They must have a working knowledge of current medical records formatting, and adhere to a strict code of ethics concerning patient confidentiality. Transcriptionists work with a variety of documents, from medical history and autopsy reports, to letters of referral. A medical transcriptionist is not a mere copyist, and their list of responsibilities illustrates this point very clearly.
Medical billing and medical coding are often thought of as the same thing, and are very closely related. But while medical billing specialists deal with information regarding the billing of patients or their insurance companies for services, medications, and medical equipment, their counterparts translate the procedures, diagnosis, and other information about a patient into codes for patient records. These codes dictate what gets billed, and for how much. Some practices split these tasks between two people, while smaller ones put both responsibilities on one person. The caveat to the latter is that the increase in responsibilities requires an increase in education, and it can be in your best interest to take on the responsibility of credentialing your workers. Luckily, neither position requires a degree, but relatively straight-forward certifications.
It is easy to disregard some of these positions, but doing so could be a big mistake, especially when taking variables like geographic location into account. Is your practice in a rural area, where certain resources and services are scarce? Do you operate in a more urban environment, or otherwise serve an ethnically diverse community? It is important to invest in your practice’s present, and future, and to do that you must invest in the right people with the right skills and necessary certifications.
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