Dental office administrators work to enhance the efficiency of dentists’ offices in delivering dental care to clients. They maintain patients’ records, schedule appointments, prepare patient education materials, explain office procedures to patients and maintain communication with dental suppliers. These professionals can find employment in independent dental offices, as well as in healthcare facilities with dental departments.
Using the Skills
To perform their functions competently, dental office administrators must be organized individuals with strong planning skills. They should be able to work effectively with the medical records of several patients and ensure accuracy in booking dental appointments for clients. These roles also call for strong computer skills, as they may involve the use of records management and appointment scheduling software. Basic analytical and problem-solving skills are essential as well, as the administrators evaluate current office procedures and identify ways to improve the effectiveness of dental offices.
Coordinating Office Processes
Dental office administrators perform a range of tasks to improve the functioning of dentists’ offices. When a client calls the office to inquire whether a dentist is available, for example, the administrator reviews the dentist’s schedule, books an appointment and gets back to the client with appointment details. When the client visits, the administrator enters his personal information in a computer database and directs him to the consultation or treatment room. If dental office accessories -- such as dental charts, report covers and copier papers -- are running out, the administrators orders the items and inspects them upon delivery.
Maintaining Compliance and Other Duties
In compliance with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, dental office administrators must keep patients’ health records private and confidential. They have a responsibility to monitor changes in relevant laws and regulations, and adjust their health information management practices accordingly.
Other duties include helping patients to fill out dental insurance claims forms, tracking the progress of the claims, handling petty cash, and ensuring fire extinguishers and other pieces of office emergency equipment are properly maintained.
Although some dental offices hire high school graduates with some office administration experience and train them on the job, individuals with professional training have stronger job prospects. The Ogden-Weber Tech College in Utah, for instance, offers a one-year program in dental office administration that equips students with both clerical and clinical skills, making them competitive job seekers. Ambitious administrators can also complete dental assistant training and obtain a state-specific dental assistant license or certification to qualify for employment as dental assistants.
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