Communication, organization, and empathy are important skills to have if you want to be a Health Unit Coordinator. As a health unit coordinator, you are the communication hub for a hospital unit, doctor’s office, or clinic. You exchange information with doctors, medical staff, patients, and families, and handle non-clinical duties such as scheduling appointments, ordering supplies, and assisting patients with insurance paperwork. To perform your job successfully, here are the skills you should hone:
Health Unit Coordinator Technical Skills
To do your job well, you need a solid foundation of relevant technical skills:
- Computer Skills—From email and appointment scheduling to patient record access, most of what you do day-to-day will be done on a computer. Computer literacy will be at the foundation of your skillset.
- Medical Terminology—You can’t work in health care if you don’t speak the language. To communicate effectively with doctors and nurses, you need basic comprehension of medical terms, anatomy and physiology, and the technical names for diseases and medications.
- Law and Ethics—From the way you handle medical records to how you interact with patients, there are strict regulations you need to follow. There are also rules about how to behave safely in the workplace. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) speaks to patient privacy requirements while OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) is about on-the-job safety.
- Electronic Health Records—Since just about everything in the medical field is done online today, you need to know your way around digital medical records. Doctors, nurses, patients, and you –all need to access records and share them only with authorized individuals.
- Medical Billing and Coding—Whether you’re directly responsible for billing and coding or you only need to translate for your patients, you need an understanding of how the two work together. Those codes that are applied to diagnoses, treatments, and procedures determine how facilities get paid and patients are covered by insurance. You may be responsible for filing insurance claims, correcting errors in the claim, and collecting payments from patients.
Health Unit Coordinator Soft Skills
In addition to the skills that will be unique to the Health Unit Coordinator job, there are skills you probably already possess that will come in handy:
- Communication: Your most important job as a Health Unit Coordinator is to be an effective communicator. For example, you might relay a message about a patient from a nurse to a doctor. Or you might need to answer a patient’s question about their medical paperwork. You need to communicate well, both verbally and in writing, and listen carefully to be as accurate as possible.
- Interpersonal Skills: Medical units are busy places, and the work can be stressful at times. Your interpersonal skills help you communicate with understanding and empathy. Especially when you interact with nervous patients or frightened family members, it helps to imagine yourself in their shoes. How would you like to be treated? And when it comes to the healthcare team, you need to interact professionally, building strong relationships and solid rapport with the whole healthcare staff.
- Organization: Organization helps you move through tasks quickly, efficiently, and accurately. Throughout the day, you may schedule patient appointments, handle paperwork, and build and track staff schedules. To carry out these tasks, you need to be well organized. This skill can help you manage files, keep notes and written communication in order, and ensure information gets where it needs to go and in a timely manner.
- Multi-Tasking: Good organizational skills can also help you multi-task and keep clear priorities. There will be times when the pace of your workflow quickens—the phone rings as you answer a patient’s question, several emails and instant messages pop up on your computer, and a doctor hands you a note for a nurse while you’re training another staff member. These moments can feel overwhelming, but if you can multi-task and prioritize, you stay calm, professional, and ahead of the next responsibility of the job.
- Teamwork: Although you may be the coordinator for your unit, you are still a part of a diverse team of medical professionals who share the same goal—providing quality care to each and every patient. You are a valuable member of the team and should be able to depend on the staff in your unit. In turn, they should know that they can rely on you and ask for your help when they need it.
If you’re ready to hone the skills of an effective Health Unit Coordinator, contact Charter College today. We offer a Certificate in Health Unit Coordinator that can prepare you for entry-level work in the field. Offered online, our program can be completed in as few as 10 months. Call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more.