During week two, I met with the different personnel and observed their duties and how they interacted with patients. When a patient enters the clinic, they first go to the front desk. The receptionist registers the patient, collects identification and insurance, and directs the patient to the medical assistant and then the doctors. I shadowed a medical assistant to witness rooming of a patient.
The patient spoke mainly Spanish and told the bilingual medical assistant where she was experiencing pain and the severity of the pain. I could understand a significant amount of the spoken Spanish having studied it for 5 years at school. The medical assistant asked about her medical history, whether or not she takes medications and the dosages, and if she used the voltaren gel prescribed during her last visit to alleviate the pain she felt in her joints. The medical assistant then recorded her temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure and filled out a form recording answers to specific questions. She also calculated the patient’s body mass index (BMI). The doctor then went in to see and examine the roomed patient.
I met with the billing specialist who deals with the patients’ payments and health insurance. I am excited to meet with the billing specialist again next week (week three) to learn more about health insurance, copayments, premiums and billing for services and infusions. I also briefly met with the office manager who performs all the human resource functions for the practice and day-to-day operations. I will be spending more time with her during week four.
I also toured the infusion room where patients are delivered medications through intravenous needles over 1-5 hours. I watched a phlebotomist draw blood from a patient. She drew blood through a syringe and then put it through a centrifuge to separate the serum from the cells. The serum is then then sent for analysis for monitoring and diagnostic tests. I feel I am learning a lot through observation and having my questions answered patiently by the different medical personnel at the clinic. I will continue reading the material and publications provided to me to understand medical economics more fully.