According to a survey from CareerBuilder and MiracleWorkers.com, 52% of employers are unable to find qualified candidates for positions in healthcare administration. Healthcare jobs are some of the toughest to fill, reports say, and this causes significant problems when recruiting for and creating high-performing teams.

As we know, both emergency room and primary care doctor visits are on the rise and a healthcare HR team must quickly fill job vacancies with qualified candidates. These candidates must be able to withstand the demands of a busy medical facility or doctor’s office. 

Among the hardest hit are medical office staff. These employees interact with dozens of patients during an average workday, as they perform secretarial, clerical, and other administrative duties. 

Keep on reading to see how pre-employment tests can help healthcare providers ensure their employees have the necessary healthcare administration skills, and why these skills are so vital.

In this article, we'll cover:

What Are The Necessary Skills in Healthcare Administration?

It’s not just doctors and nurses that are the only professionals working in healthcare. Many different professionals must work together for a healthcare organization to operate efficiently.

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This includes:

  • Front desk and back office staff
  • IT staff
  • custodial staff and maintenance workers
  • social workers
  • translators and interpreters, and more.

A large part of this group consists of medical office staff, who are responsible for administrative tasks. A typical medical office will involve several different job roles, such as:

  • Receptionist
  • Medical secretary and administrative assistant
  • Medical assistant

Medical Receptionist Skills

In any healthcare facility, the receptionist forms the patients' first impression of the overall quality of service.

As the initial contact point, the receptionist should have top-notch communication skills and should also have a good understanding of office technology. From handling difficult phone conversations, processing medical accounts, relaxing patients, to managing the copier/scanner, a great receptionist should be able to think quickly, solve problems, and make your patients feel valued and safe.

What Does a Medical Secretary Do?

The medical secretary’s (or administrative assistant) and the receptionist’s duties may overlap, but there can be big differences between the two positions.

As the receptionist greets the patients, they will collect preliminary information, including billing and insurance. That info will find its way to the medical secretarial team that handles insurance. This team makes up the administrative "gears" that keep the entire office "motor" running.

In addition to managing those documents, a medical secretary’s workday can include coordinating communication between different departments – for example, scheduling staff meetings. They will also be in charge of regularly updating and managing a patient database and processing medical records.

With this in mind, your medical secretary hiring pool should have candidates skilled in data entry, accounting and Office software, as well as medical software. Organizational skills are critical for this position, along with keen attention to detail.

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The Medical Assistant Skills Checklist

The role of a medical assistant carries a large set of responsibilities.

"They are a valuable asset to a medical practice because they can conduct both patient care and front- and back-office tasks," says Denise Pufall, chair of the Rasmussen University Medical Assisting department. This broad set of duties is unusual within the healthcare sector, where the majority of jobs focus either on patient care or administration.

A medical assistant's clinical tasks include taking vital signs while talking with patients, compiling medical histories, and delivering prescriptions under the supervision of a physician. They might be in charge of everything from organizing appointments to billing and helping patients with filling out insurance documents.

With so many responsibilities on their plate, every medical assistant has to come with stellar job skills – both soft and hard. Look for applicants who are good listeners and problem-solvers, as well as able to follow instructions from others. This role often has time pressures, so being responsive is also essential.

Due to the number of tasks medical assistants juggle daily, finding the hire with just the right skill set can be difficult. This is why employers have been increasingly relying on pre-employment tests, which help shortlist candidates with the necessary skills, while remaining unbiased due to the independent structure of the tests.

Fundamental Skills in Healthcare Administration: Attention to Detail

The ability to pay attention to detail is a top priority healthcare administrative skill. In healthcare, even simple mistakes can carry heavy consequences. Studies suggest that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Ensuring there are no mistakes in your patients’ medical records depends on your hires’ healthcare administration skills.

Technical Skills for Healthcare Administrators

A passionate medical professional who wants to work in healthcare administration must master basic, but critical, tech skills to succeed in the job.

Their routine tasks include:

  • entering and processing important data quickly and accurately, 
  • performing routine inventory checks, 
  • compiling and updating medical records, 
  • and keeping track of appointments and shifts. 

To accomplish this, knowledge of Microsoft Office and similar computer programs are essential skills for every healthcare administrator. Without the necessary computer skill level, it would be extremely difficult for your medical office staff to perform daily tasks. As the medical office is in charge of billing, other needed skills for healthcare administration candidates are basic workplace math, as well as budgeting, customer billing, quality assurance and control, and project management.

Improving Staff Retention and Patient Satisfaction with Pre-employment Tests

Satisfied medical professionals are the engine that keeps medical organizations running with few hiccups. For healthcare HR executives who want to build high-functioning workforces, this means prioritizing adequate staffing, employee engagement, and retention.

Boosting Retention

Block_21-2bEmployee retention is incredibly expensive in any industry, but it’s especially costly in healthcare. According to the Health Care Management Review, the cost of turnover at one major medical facility amounts to more than 5% of the total yearly operating budget

Due to the nature of the work, healthcare employees are often overworked and stressed. The results of LPT's survey confirm this – 43% of respondents reported they have been with their current organization for less than two years. An additional 66% reported they have been with their hospital for less than five years. Finally, more than one-third of LPT survey respondents plan to leave their current organization within 2 years, and 69% plan to leave in 5 years.

Among the top retention strategies in healthcare is investing in your team’s professional development. Achieving high medical staffing levels is only as successful as an organization's ability to retain the top healthcare experts. To accomplish this, HR must constantly check in on their employees' needs. To keep employees interested and devoted to their jobs, their talents should be recognized and carefully cultivated.

Increasing Patient Satisfaction

Because of their concern for patient care, it’s helpful to think of healthcare employees as customer service representatives. Kind gestures and positive exchanges between employees and patients result in a reputation for high-quality care, while keeping patients happy.

Most healthcare providers prioritize building long-term relationships with their patients. That’s why doctor-patient relationships are considered one of the strongest examples of client loyalty in any sector and that foundation lies in excellent customer service practices. 

If the patients are pleased with service levels, they’ll recommend their healthcare provider to others, which leads to patient retention, business growth, and recurring revenue. Administering customer service tests as part of a larger healthcare administration skills assessment before employment is a good hiring strategy.

Try Pre-Employment Tests to Increase Efficiency and Decrease Turnover

Medical office administration staff plays a very important role in the healthcare sector because of the variety of their daily responsibilities. With quality hires, you can increase employee retention and patient satisfaction, and improve the operating capacity of the organization.

Still, it’s hard for healthcare administration applicants to fully demonstrate their skills and experience during the interview stage. It is similarly challenging for interviewers to ensure that candidates possess the skills they claim, based on the interview and resumes alone.

To help determine whether an applicant would make a good match for the position, many healthcare employers choose to take advantage of pre-employment tests. Some of these tests include: 

These assessments help hiring managers get a better idea of an applicant's technical aptitude.

Integrating a healthcare aptitude test or other pre-employment tests into your hiring process will also save you time spent interviewing unqualified candidates. Poor hires result in major financial and time drains for a company, which is why these tests go beyond the resume, providing accurate results about what skills candidates actually possess.

Having more insight into the capabilities of your candidate pool makes hiring decisions easier. By following these guidelines, you can confidently hire healthcare administrative staff members who maintain or improve your organization’s level of quality care.

Contact EmployTest today to learn more about our pre-employment testing process, and try a free sample of our healthcare aptitude test.

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