What Is a Health Unit Coordinator?

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Look behind the curtain at any healthcare facility, and you’ll find that it takes more than doctors and nurses to provide patient care. In the background is a team of workers who ensures that things run smoothly on the administrative side of the facility. Among those skilled professionals is the Health Unit Coordinator, an important member of the healthcare team.

What Does a Health Unit Coordinator Do?

A Health Unit Coordinator is at the center of bustling healthcare facilities across the country. They help coordinate services and communicate with patients, families, and medical staff. If you took on the role, you would handle the non-clinical duties of a hospital wing or doctor’s office, especially communication. In fact, you’d serve as the communication hub of your facility, the person everyone goes to for answers. You might be the one to answer the phones at the nurses’ station, answering any non-medical questions that families may have and directing others to the appropriate personnel. If a patient requests the aid of a nurse, you’d handle that request. You’d also take notes and instructions on patients’ diet and medication schedules from physicians and relay them to nurses. Here are a few other duties you would have:

  • Answer emails or questions from staff
  • Greet patients and schedule their appointments
  • Order supplies from vendors
  • Process insurance claims
  • Assist patients with paperwork
  • Ensure doctors’ orders are added to the electronic medical record
  • Help resolve complaints from patients
  • Maintain patient confidentiality
  • Train new staff members on hospital processes and protocols

Where Does a Health Unit Coordinator Work?

As a health unit coordinator, you could work in any healthcare facility, such as a doctor’s office or a group practice. In a hospital, you’d work in a particular unit such as a surgical unit, a pediatric unit, a medical unit or a rehabilitation unit. You could also work in an outpatient clinic, a rehabilitation center, or a public health clinic.

What Would You Need to Know to be a Health Unit Coordinator?

Since communication is such a large part of your job, you’ll need good communication skills. This includes the ability to answer phone calls and emails, to take notes and maintain records. A large part of communication is listening. In this position, you’ll need to be a good listener—especially when patients have a complaint, or when a doctor or nurse needs to convey important information to you. Here are other skills and knowledge you’ll need to succeed in this career:

  • Organization—You’ll need to be organized to make sure that the information that crosses your desk gets where it needs to go.
  • Medical Terminology—To work in any healthcare facility, you’ll need to speak the language. That means you’ll need to learn basic medical terminology as well as some intro anatomy and physiology.
  • Professionalism—You’ll need to be a good team player and know how to remain calm and professional under pressure.
  • Law and Ethics—Every healthcare professional needs to know basic healthcare laws and how to think and behave ethically. Since you’ll work with medical records, you’ll need to understand patient confidentiality rules and HIPAA guidelines in particular.

How Can I Become a Health Unit Coordinator?

If you’re interested becoming a health unit coordinator, you’ll need to learn how to perform the tasks of the job. It will also be helpful to become certified by the National Association of Health Unit Coordinators. How can you do both in a short amount of time? Enroll in Charter College’s Certificate in Health Unit Coordinator program. Our program is offered online for your convenience and will prepare you to sit for the national certification exam. For more information, call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form.