How Medical Assistants are Changing Healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The past 10 years has changed how medical assistants work with their office physicians and how they interact with patients.

Medical assistants are trained in both clinical and administrative work. This multidimensional skill set is unique to medical assistants, and it often sets them apart from other healthcare professionals. Hospitals are relying on the knowledge and abilities of medical assistants more and more each year.

According to the American Medical Assistants Association “Medical assistants are the most versatile allied health professionals. They are cross-trained to perform clinical and administrative responsibilities.”

This key role in medical clinics is projected to grow. Based on studies undertaken by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical assistants is projected to grow 23 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all other healthcare occupations.

Here are three key ways that Medical Assistants are changing and improving healthcare:

 

Increased Patient Engagement

Medical assistants today take more of a proactive role in caring for patients by answering questions on the phone or through patient portals. They are a key link in transferring messages from the doctor to the patient, and they are more knowledgeable about each patient’s status because of this interaction.

Patricia Ingerick, reporting for HealthITOutcomes says “Communication is the primary mechanism through which a guiding care provider can help move the unengaged to become engaged. In many outpatient settings today, the Medical Assistant is the care team member charged with the communication aimed at engaging patients”

 

Decreased Downtime

In most modern ambulatory clinics, medical assistants take on the following tasks:

– Recording patient history and personal information

– Measuring vital signs, such as blood pressure

– Helping physicians with patient examinations

– Delivering patients injections or medications as directed by the physician

– Scheduling and managing patient appointments

– Collecting and Preparing laboratory test samples

– Entering patient information into EHR systems

These tasks provide a smooth transition of care from Physician to Medical Assistant, and ensure that the patients wait time is reduced.

 

Better Patient Support

Assistants who specialize have additional duties. For example, Podiatric medical assistants make castings of feet, expose and develop X-rays, and assist podiatrists in surgery.

Ophthalmic medical assistants help ophthalmologists provide medical eye care. They administer diagnostic tests, measure and record vision, and test eye muscle function. They also show patients how to insert, remove, and care for contact lenses; and they apply eye dressings. Under the direction of the physician, they may administer eye medications. They also maintain optical and surgical instruments and may assist the ophthalmologist in surgery.

According to a US News report “A routine visit to the doctor is really a visit with an entire team, including a growing number of medical assistants. Medical assistants are likely the first and last faces you’ll see during any medical appointment, either in your doctor’s office or at a larger medical organization. “

As the aging baby boomer population needs more medical support, there will be increasing demand for more medical assistants, and the valuable service they provide.