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The Medical Office Assistant Meets the Clinic Computer

14 MAR 2013
Career Path : Healthcare

These days, a dental or medical clinic relies on computers to help them with their records. While in the past a medical office assistant would rely on a rolodex, file cabinets, a giant date book and a typewriter, administration has kept pace with trends outside the clinic.


Nonetheless, a clinic computer might not be a top of the line model. Clinics may use highly specific industry software to track appointments and keep digitized medical records and these generally do not have a high level of graphical sophistication or processing power requirements. As long as it functions, an operating system that is a half-decade old, or even a computer from the days before flat screen monitors, will suffice. Indeed there can be advantages to avoiding regular system updates, because this reduces the need to transfer medical records repeatedly.


Usually a clinic will keep a complete archive of appointment, prescriptions issued and treatments administered, as well as diagnoses. This will actually be a double record, with a paper hard copy and a digitized version. With two versions, it may seem impractical to bother with computer records, but the hard copy is available if there are power or computer issues, and an electronic version is more easily searchable.


Usually technical support is outsourced to a contractor. They won’t have healthcare training, just a degree from IT schools or colleges that prepares them for general maintenance work. However, with practice they may specialize in service dental and doctor’s offices. Since there’s usually several in any given community and IT training is not a standard part of healthcare courses, this can be quite lucrative.


One special feature of a clinic computer is that they usually get a protective sheath. For patient safety, computers need to be easily cleaned and a plastic keyboard cover allows for wipe down sterilization. This is cheaper than repeatedly replacing a dirty mouse and keyboard.


Incidentally, a medical office assistant is like a secretary with bonus abilities. Usually, in addition to keyboarding talents and a good foundation of office skills, they have taken healthcare courses to enhance their ability to perform in the setting. He or she will be an expert with clinic specific computer programs and have a basic understanding of healing needs.


They may even understand the computer and medical archives better than the doctor or dentist that employs them! If the medical professional who owns the practice has had a particularly lengthy tenure, they may not be part of one of the generations to whom computer use was natural. Though increasingly, professionals of all kinds are doing their own administrative work, doctors, because of their specialized skills and busy work schedules, are one of the groups with the least need to adopt this trend.



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