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How to Start a New Career as a Medical Assistant (Part I)

one man and three women wearing blue scrubs standing in a line with arms crossed and smiling

Medical assisting is a career that is in high demand. Physicians are busier than ever, and as a result, they require clear, concise, and accurate medical documentation for each patient, that allows them to maintain their productivity. In order to meet these demands, more physician practices and hospitals are hiring medical assistants. If you’ve ever been interested in becoming a medical assistant, there’s never been a better time to make the transition to a career in medical assisting. The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor and Statistics projects that while jobs are already plentiful in this field, they will grow by 23% by 2028, which is much greater growth than average. This projection is largely due to the increasing need for preventative medical care among baby boomers. 

What Do Medical Assistants Do? 

Medical assistants perform a wide variety of tasks to assist physicians, so that they can spend more time dealing with issues that concern patients. Medical assistants schedule patient appointments, and measure and record patient vital signs to help physicians during patient exams. Medical assistants may even give injections and medications under the direction of an overseeing physician. As a medical assistant, you can even work remotely, completing clinical paperwork and insurance forms to bill for physician services.

If you work within a particular specialty, such as orthopedics for example, you might perform more specialized tasks that pertain to bone conditions. Unlike a physician’s assistant, a medical assistant would not examine the patient or make treatment decisions about the patient.

How Do You Become a Medical Assistant? 

Many hospitals and medical clinics will hire medical assistants with simply a high school diploma and provide them with on-the-job training. There are also diploma-based certificates and degree options available that can usually be completed within anywhere from 8-18 months. This track is becoming slightly more popular as medical assisting jobs become more competitive, and any additional training will give you a competitive edge. The shift from paper to electronic records also increases the demand for skilled medical assistants. If you’d like to learn more about the content of the electronic medical record from the standpoint of the documentation that the patient sees when they request a copy of their medical record, consider enrolling in the course entitled, “How to Read Your Own Medical Record (Learn What is in YOUR Medical Files!)” offered by Avidity Medical Design Academy.

If you’re interested in starting your own business, working from home, as a medical assistant, you will need to know how to market yourself in order to gain new clients. Check out this article entitled, “5 Ways to Market Yourself as a Virtual Medical Assistant,” on the Avidity Medical Design Blog.

If you are not interested in medical assisting, but you are interested in working from home in other fields in healthcare, such as medical coding, medical transcription, medical writing, healthcare teaching, nursing (yes, nursing!) or medical claims processing, enroll in the course entitled, “How to Make Money in Healthcare Working from Home (Full Time!)” offered by Avidity Medical Design Academy.

For more informative healthcare articles, follow the Avidity Medical Design Blog

More Tips: A 4-Step Guide to Professional Dress in the Medical Office

While proper attire is important in any office, professional dress in the medical office is crucial. Maintaining a professional appearance is the key to patient comfort and trust. Below is a 4-step guide to help navigate the pitfalls of dressing for the medical office.

Professional Dress in the Medical Office

First off, medical office personnel deal with patients at a very personal level. They have contact with the patient physically and they have general access to highly sensitive information such as health history and social security numbers. By presenting themselves professionally, office staff provide an environment that ensures patient confidence. Patients need to feel safe in the office and that their information is being handled respectfully and professionally.

  1. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. It is important to have a clean and well-maintained appearance. Cleanliness is paramount in a medical office. Unclean bodies and hair can be alarming for patients, but even simple things like ripped clothing, wrinkled clothing or improperly fitting clothing can project an environment that fails to take patient health and safety seriously. Meanwhile, meticulous dress and appearance help project the idea that cleanliness, orderliness and professionalism are important and therefore, so are patient health and safety.
  2. Accessories. Understated accessories including hair, nails, make-up and tattoos keep the focus on the patient and not on the staff. Drawing attention with large jewelry or visible tattoos can unintentionally project the idea that the patient is secondary. Also, extreme hair, excessive make-up and long nails can give patients the idea that their health and safety is not the primary focus in the office.
  3. Shoes. While many medical professionals spend hours on their feet, they should exercise care when selecting footwear. Especially for medical professionals in scrubs, shoes can stand out to patients so, it is important to make sure they are not only comfortable, but maintain a professional appearance. Dansko-style clogs are good examples of acceptable shoes, while snow boots, slipper-style shoes, Converse or other athletic shoes, Uggs, cowboy boots, and high heels are examples of shoes that should not be worn in a medical environment.
  4. Clothing. A medical professional should wear clothing that is classic, professional, and well-fitted. It should allow the employee to project confidence and professionalism, which will in turn provide patients with reassurance that their lives are in good hands. Clothing that is revealing, offensive (as in t-shirts with messages on them), or made of any material that either sheds (like sequins or glitter) or is not considered professional (like jeans, leather or spandex)should not be worn.

By dressing in a professional and timeless fashion, the employee allows for the focus to remain where it belongs, on the patient. Employees in the medical office should consistently review their attire to make sure it projects the idea, from the patient’s perspective, that the primary focus in the office is on the safety and comfort of its patients.

If you are interested in learning more about how to be a professional in healthcare, enroll in the course entitled, “How to Learn Professionalism in Healthcare (with REAL-WORLD Examples!)” offered by Avidity Medical Design Academy. Click here to learn more about this course.

Professional Communication and Its Importance in the Doctor’s Office

It isn’t what you say, it’s how you say it.

This is one of the cardinal rules of professional communication, and it’s important to remember. Think of the message you’re trying to convey as a passenger in a car. Pulling out your everyday language would be like showing up to a company event in a beat-up clunker with mismatched paint. It will get your point to the destination, but it won’t be well-received showing up in that ride. If you use professional language free of jargon, slang, and other colorful expressions though then it’s like you’re delivering your point in a sleek, shiny sedan. It’s obvious in your expression that you know what you’re talking about, and you’re here to work.

Professional Communication in the Doctor’s Office

professional communication in a doctor's officeNowhere is proper communication more important than it is in the doctor’s office. Not only do you need to put on a professional face for patients and co-workers, but what you say could quite literally alter someone’s life. So rather than using jargon to explain a medical decision to a patient, or a slang term to relate a patient’s problem to a doctor, it’s best to use the correct terminology.

It’s also important to dot your I’s and cross your T’s.

It isn’t just your spoken words either. With so much of the medical field depending on patient files it’s important for you to beable to express yourself in text as well. Every report, every chart, could be the key to the next doctor providing the right care. That’s why it’s so important for you to make sure your writing is legible and sensical, otherwise it could lead to serious problems down the line when someone whom you don’t know tries to interpret the guide you left behind.

For more information on the importance of professional communication in the doctor’s office simply contact us today!

How to Reduce Prescription Errors in 21st Century Pharmacies

It may seem like a contradiction but the pharmacy of the 21st century will feature both robotic automation and greater interaction between pharmacists and patients.

prescription pharmacyPharmacy automation has been steadily making its way into many pharmacies throughout the country. Robotic systems from companies like Aesynt, Parata Systems and RxMedic sort and dispense pills, which spares pharmacists from work that takes a lot of time and can lead to human error. It’s hard to put a firm number on presciption errors but the Food and Drug Administration says it has received close to 30,000 reports of medication errors since 1992. With many pills looking alike and many drug names sounding similar, automated systems offer a better way of checking and verifying that patients receive only drug they were prescribed.

Another technology development that will change the pharmacy of the 21st century is the adoption of electronic prescribing, which gives doctors the ability to send prescriptions electronically to a pharmacy. E-prescribing reduces the chances for error that can come from misreading a doctor’s handwriting.

As for the pharmacists themselves, the evolution of pharmacist training is changing the profession. Compared to decades ago, today’s pharmacists can be more specialized and they enter the field with more specialized training, pharmacy consultant Ernest Gates tells Drug Topics. Some of these pharmacists will work in specialty pharmacies in areas such as oncology, geriatrics and diabetes among other areas of specialization.

Pharmacists who aren’t specialists can still expect to take on more responsibilities as a consequence of the Affordable Care Act. With the law’s expansion of Medicaid, Daniel Brown, a pharmacist and professor at the pharmacy school at Palm Beach Atlantic University, tells Medscape that he expects community pharmacies to see more Medicaid prescriptions. He also sees the increase in this patient traffic presenting additional opportunities for pharmacists to talk to patients about preventive services. Here’s where pharmacy automation is important. Automation doesn’t replace pharmacists. Instead, it provides a remedy to busy pharmacists – these systems free pharmacists to spend more of their time counseling patients instead of sorting pills. If the expected increase in patient traffic to pharmacies holds true, time savings found with automation will become very valuable.

For more information about emerging pharmacy trends, please contact us.

How To Use Google Glasses in Healthcare Training To Broaden Your Scope

Google Glass has been receiving a lot of press recently, especially in the field of medicine. Before we delve into how to use google glasses in healthcare training, let’s start by looking more closely at the device.

how to use google glasses in healthcare training, technology and healthcare, google glass and healthcareAs the name suggests, Google Glass is worn similar to a pair of glasses, minus one component: the lens. Instead of the lenses found in a traditional pair of glasses, the unit consists of a wire frame with a small, square computer in the upper right hand corner. The right side of the wire frame, close to the ear, acts as a track pad that turns the device off and on.

Once activated, the user can view the computer screen in their peripheral vision. The screen can be used to scroll through information, like a mini computer, or can be used as a live video capture of whatever you are viewing.

Google Glass was created for the public masses with the idea that now you can literally be connected to the Internet in a hands-free way. If you are in Paris and want to know how to get to the Eiffel Tower, simply turn Google Glass on with a swipe of your finger, ask the computer to locate directions, and begin walking.
When it comes to healthcare training, Google Glass has found many uses. Since this is our main focus, let’s consider some test cases below:

1. Ohio State University is using Google Glass during surgery, allowing the surgeon to perform a live surgery for training future surgeons.

2. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is using the device to pull up medical records before a doctor enters the room. Rather than sift through a file, the doctors scroll through the records on glass.

3. Rhode Island Hospital in Providence has used Google Glass as an interdisciplinary approach to medicine in the Emergency Room. When patients come into the ER with needs that may require a specialist consult, the attending physician can call through Glass and provide a live video feed of the patient to whatever specialist is on call.

The list of Google Glass indications for healthcare training are endless. In addition to live education, it can allow doctors to review symptoms before recommending treatment plans. It can also allow more autonomy for medical students as a supervisor or specialist is just a video conference away.

Google Glass is simply one aspect of healthcare training. If you are interested in learning about the various types of medical training we provide, please contact us.

Applying Healthcare Instructional Design Strategies that Work

If you are responsible for the continuing education of medical professionals, the importance of Healthcare Instructional Design Strategies that Work is clear.  Healthcare workers are busy, and it is often difficult, if not impossible to get a group together during working hours.  How then, do you teach and document new skills, and provide meaningful continuing education?

healthcare instructional designThe answer is to use personalized educational programs, that have been designed just for your needs.  Avidity Medical Design can provide these programs.  If your staff is self directed, and motivated to learn, you can choose mobile programs.   These learning modules can be completed on the employee’s own time.  If your employees don’t want to take their work home with them, choose a traditional program.  This would be completed as a group learning experience. Another option is a combination approach, where part of the module is completed by the individual, and and then a review is done as a group.

Continuing education requirements vary state by state.  Customized course development assures that these requirements will be met.  Staff will stay up to date, and competent.  Nursing Continuing Education Requirement Chart, from the American Nurses Organization, shows the hours required by each state.  Even if your state does not require documented hours, the importance of maintaining competency cannot be stressed enough. Also, nurses are not the only staff that need continuing education. All staff have to remain up to date, and competent.

An article in Propublica.org documents the astounding statistics of errors in United States hospitals.  It is reported that up to 98,000 deaths a year are as result of error.  This number is just from hospitals.  Errors also occur at walk-in clinics, dialysis clinics, ambulatory surgical facilities, etc.  These errors were not intentional, but none the less, lives were lost.  This shows how absolutely necessary it is for healthcare workers to remain competent.

For more information on Healthcare Instructional Design, please Contact Us.

Three Ways to Use Facebook to Train Healthcare Students

Facebook has become not only a way to find old friends or learn about the weekend’s events, it is also an incredible learning tool, for students of healthcare and countless other topics.  Teachers can utilize Facebook for class projects, for enhancing communication, and for engaging students in a manner that might not be entirely possible in traditional classroom settings.  Be creating a page specifically for the class, managing the privacy settings to exclude outside visitors, and connecting the class blog or online learning homepage to Facebook, healthcare students have a relaxed, inviting atmosphere of learning that encourages How to use facebook to train healthcare studentsparticipation and engagement.

Facebook encourages participation in class projects and class discussions where classroom learning often fails.  Healthcare students could be instructed to follow current news feeds.  There are dozens of pages related to the medical field, updated daily and broken down into sections for relevancy, keeping current information flowing through the class.  With the wealth of information available to healthcare scholars, students can review assigned topics, then post their abstracts on Facebook for other students to read, discuss, and peer-review.  An excellent way to ensure that healthcare students are more engaged in the learning experience—whether in a traditional classroom or at accredited online colleges—is by strengthening the communication between students and student-to-teacher.

Educators can create groups, schedule events, send messages, share multimedia, post class notes, make announcements, and post homework on Facebook, providing direct communication with instructors, facilitating classmate connections, and allowing shy students a way to communicate.  Healthcare students can even practice doctor-patient communication and bedside manner through Facebook messaging and comments.

Facebook for education offers students the opportunity for active communication on a level playing field.  Since students are likely familiar with Facebook already, implementing it into healthcare education and training provides comfortable, easy student access.  Facebook promotes collaboration, teaches personal responsibility, and keeps schools current in many medical and professional fields.

Please contact us to learn more tips on How To Use Facebook to Train Healthcare Students.

Bloom’s Taxonomy Brings Your Healthcare Training to Life

Course design is all about pedagogy, understanding how we learn best. But it’s not enough just to learn something to know it, students also need to be able to apply it. Unfortunately, so much of medical education relies on rote learning and memorization. Students may not remember how many hours they spent pouring over flashcards before a pre-med anatomy and physiology exam. Likewise, students may not remember everything they were tested on. That’s because the learning they are expected to do doesn’t involve applying that knowledge in a real world healthcare setting (the cadaver lab doesn’t count).

At Avidity Medical Design, we employ Bloom’s Taxonomy in training healthcare learners to bring your education to life. Bloom’s Taxonomy is the pedagogy sine qua non for Bloom's Taxonomy Training Healthcare Learnersholistic, integrative learning. For a simplified understanding of this concept, consider this excerpt from Wikipedia:

Bloom’s taxonomy refers to a classification of the different objectives that educators set for students (learning objectives). It divides educational objectives into three “domains”: cognitiveaffective, and psychomotor (sometimes loosely described as “knowing/head”, “feeling/heart” and “doing/hands” respectively). Within the domains, learning at the higher levels is dependent on having attained prerequisite knowledge and skills at lower levels.[2] A goal of Bloom’s taxonomy is to motivate educators to focus on all three domains, creating a more holistic form of education.[1] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom’s_taxonomy)

The idea is to structure learning as simultaneous cognitive assimilation. Using given information, and understanding the intended application, we design our lesson plans to teach intellectual understanding and real-life, physical application at the same time. This approach saves time in the classroom and negates the need for flashcards and hours of homework.

Furthermore, our lesson plans based on Bloom’s Taxonomy are structured to include strategic variables that increase the depth of knowledge on a given topic. Your healthcare learners will be challenged to understand the idea on a cognitive level and to apply that understanding in different settings with different tools. Your students learn key concepts, standard procedures, and effective improvisation techniques all in one lesson.

Today’s healthcare industry is a fast changing environment that demands constant adaptation. Training healthcare learners requires education that can adapt just as fast. At Avidity Medical Design, we are dedicated to ensuring the highest quality education by using the most effective learning tools to produce students who are as detailed as they are innovative. Contact us to learn more about how we can design the most effective and engaging courses to bring your healthcare training to life.

ICD-10: Ready or Not, Here It Comes

ICD-10 avidity medical designThe only thing constant in life is change. This saying has always been true.

One of the biggest changes that will occur in 2014 is the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 on October 1, 2014. Results of a recent Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) survey show that less than 10 percent of physician practices are ready for ICD-10. MGMA president and CEO, Susan L. Turney, made it very clear that immediate action is required to prepare for the October deadline:

“The critical coordination that must take place between practices and their software vendor, clearinghouse and health plan partners is simply not happening at the pace required for a seamless implementation.”

In the same MGMA survey, over 85 percent of physician practices were concerned or very concerned about expected changes in clinical documentation, loss of clinician productivity, and loss of coding staff productivity after the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10.

It is time for the majority of healthcare providers and organizations to begin preparing for the upcoming transition to ICD-10. The shift to ICD-10 means that physicians, coders, and other HIM professionals must be up to speed on the changes to diagnosis code assignment and ready to assign ICD-10 codes accurately, completely, and efficiently by October 1, 2014.

I hear and I forget

I see and I remember

I do and I understand

Avidity Medical Design will help you understand the changes that will occur with ICD-10. We will also develop customized ICD-10 curriculum to prepare your staff for ICD-10 coding prior to the scheduled implementation on October 1, 2014.