While you may not recognize the term, you have probably benefited from the skills and dedication of a practice manager in healthcare. A practice manager is the administrator who runs a doctor's office, group practice, medical clinic, hospital department and other forms of medical offices. They are sometimes called medical managers, medical practice administrators, healthcare administrators and healthcare executives.
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What Does a Practice Manager Do?
Although their responsibilities depend on the size of the medical practice where they work, practice managers are typically expected to implement the policies and procedures that keep the medical office running smoothly. They are often responsible for staffing and scheduling, ensuring compliance with regulations, managing the revenue cycle and helping to oversee the security procedures that guard the private information of the business and its patients. Practice managers also recommend ways to lower overheads and improve efficiency and supervise non-clinical staff like receptionists, secretaries, medical billers and medical coders. In smaller offices, they may be expected to fill in when the office is short-staffed. As is often the case with other managerial positions, practice managers may also be asked to step in and mediate issues with office personnel, defuse a customer service problem or handle a dispute with an insurance company.
What Skills Does a Practice Manager Need?
First and foremost, practice managers need to be good managers. They must communicate clearly with patients, office employees, insurance company representatives and medical staff. They need to be capable of managing employees with different personalities and backgrounds effectively. Conflict resolution and multitasking skills are necessities. Attention to detail is also vital, as is the case with most healthcare careers. In fact, the most successful practice managers have a thorough understanding of the ins and outs of medical administration that enables them to identify and proactively tackle the unique issues healthcare offices face. Health Careers recommends managers intrigued by the notion of becoming medical practice managers first work as a medical office staffer to get a feel for how a medical office functions.
What Qualifications Does a Practice Manager Need?
Because qualifications are set by the medical practice, they vary. Smaller practices may accept a manager who began their career as a medical office staffer and worked their way up. Other practices require managers to have a Bachelor's in Healthcare Administration. Larger practices prefer to hire practice managers who hold Master of Business Administration degrees in Healthcare Administration or Healthcare Management. There are also several certifications practice managers can pursue to demonstrate their qualifications, including the Certified Physician Practice Manager credential from the American Academy of Professional Coders, the Certified Medical Manager credential from the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management, and the Certified Medical Practice Executive credential through the American College of Medical Practice Executives.
What is the Job Outlook for Practice Manager?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for medical practice managers is expected to grow by more than 20 percent in the next decade. Like other healthcare professions, practice management is benefiting from the aging American population's expanding need for medical services. Many practice managers start out at smaller practices and then transfer to larger and more complex practices as the gain experience, knowledge and skills.
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By working to ensure medical office run smoothly, practice managers play a critical role in healthcare delivery. For someone who has strong management skills, an interest in healthcare, and a desire to challenge themselves in a fast-paced, continually evolving field, working as a practice manager in healthcare may be the perfect career.