Becoming a Patient Account Representative: Salary & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a patient account representative career? Get real job duties, career outlook and salary info to see if becoming a patient account representative is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Patient Account Representative Career

Patient account representatives are financial clerks who handle various aspects of medical billing. Keep reading to learn about more pros and cons for this career and decide if it is a good fit for you.

Pros of Being a Patient Account Representative
Minimum education requirement is a high school diploma*
High job growth (18% between 2012-2022)*
Majority of job opportunities is full-time*
Qualified to work in a variety of settings*

Cons of Being a Patient Account Representative
Repetitive work*
Potential for stress due to bill collection activities***
Training deficiencies may be common**
Lower than national average wage ($34,410 annual median salary)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Healthcare Financial Management Association, ***JobPath.com job description (found April 2012).

Career Information

Job Description and Duties

As a patient account representative, your work would involve varying types of administrative, customer service and clerical duties. Generally, you would be responsible for maintaining the financial records on medical services and/or products given to patients. How this is carried out will depend on your work environment. For example, if you work in a hospital or other large medical facility, financial records may be maintained through an advanced automated billing system. In this instance, your maintenance duties may be limited to verifying and updating charges as needed. However, if you work in a small physician's office, patient account activities may be recorded and updated manually more frequently.

Your customer service responsibilities may include answering questions and resolving billing problems with patients and insurance carriers. Depending on your employer, this may be done via telephone, mailed correspondence or in person. You may also be responsible for handling or reviewing medical claims, generating bills and other related transactions.

Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that, in May 2014, the annual median salary for professionals in this field was approximately $34,410, though clerks working in physician's offices and hospitals earned more. During the same period, the lowest 10% in annual wage earnings was about $24,090. The upper 10% of earners in this profession received an annual salary of approximately $48,860, reports the BLS.

What Are the Requirements?

Other than a high school diploma or GED, no other formal educational training is required for entry-level positions. On-the-job training, which is generally completed within a month, is facilitated through a supervisor or senior representative. Other required skills may include:

  • Fundamental math skills
  • Intermediate computer skills
  • Excellent communication and organizational skills
  • Analytical and customer service skills (particularly for problem resolution)

Job Posting from Real Employers

You may work for many different types of employers, such as hospitals, outpatient medical facilities, physicians' offices, insurance carriers and specialty medical centers. Varied types and levels of work experience may be required. Below are some examples of real jobs postings available in April 2012.

  • A hospital in Washington wants to hire a patient account representative who has at least a high school diploma and 2 years of experience in collections. The ideal candidate must have a have 2 years of computer experience and at least a year of experience in hospital insurance billing.
  • An assisted living facility in Kansas is looking for a patient account representative who has basic technical skills and is able work with minimal supervision under specific guidelines. Applicants must have 2-5 years of experience in working with senior citizens in a healthcare setting. Good oral and written communication skills are also required.
  • A healthcare group in Connecticut would like to hire a patient account representative that has basic knowledge of insurance and excellent computer skills. The minimum education requirement is a high school diploma. However, undergraduate coursework in business or a medical certificate/diploma is preferred. An associate's degree in business or human services is highly desired. Also, at least one year of work experience in billing, collections or financial analysis is preferred.

How to Make Your Skills Stand out

One way to gain an edge in the job market is by receiving formal educational training. While formal education is not required, many employers prefer candidates who have a professional certificate/diploma or an associate's degree. These are available at technical or vocational schools and community colleges. Disciplines that are consistent with your duties as a patient accounts representative include those in medical billing, coding and health information technology.

Get Certified

You may also want to consider obtaining certification, which is available through various trade organizations. For example, the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) offers certification through their national headquarters and state chapters. The HFMA national headquarters offers professional designation as a Certified Revenue Cycle Representative, and some state chapters provide designation as a Certified Patient Account Representative.

The American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management offers various designations, including Certified Patient Account Technician. Also, the Medical-Dental-Hospital Business Associates (MDHBA) offers the designation of Certified Patient Account Specialist. Certification is usually obtained after meeting eligibility requirements that vary among organizations, and passing an examination.

Alternative Career Paths

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians

If you like the administrative duties of a patient account representative, but would prefer not to work directly with patients or in a financial collection capacity, then being a medical records and health information technician may be an option. You would review patient records for the completeness and accuracy of health data, administer clinical databases and track factors for quality assessments.

Ordinarily, your minimum educational requirement would be a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree. However, your employer or potential employer may require professional certification. According to the BLS, this field is expected to have a fast than average growth (21%) in the 2010-2020 decade, and the median annual salary in May 2011 was $33,000.

Medical and Health Services Managers

If you would like more work responsibilities and a higher salary in healthcare administration, then you may want to consider being a medical and health services manager. You would coordinate and supervise various services in healthcare facilities. The 2011 annual median salary for this profession was $86,000, according to the BLS. However, you must have a bachelor's degree at minimum. Master's degrees are prevalent.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Health Services Admin
      • B.A. - Health Services Admin
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Medical Administrative Billing and Coding
      • Associate of Arts - Health Services Admin
    Certificate
      • Grad Business Certificate - Health Services Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Public Safety Leadership
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Health Information Management
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist
      • Associate: Health Information Management
      • Associate: Healthcare Management
    Certificate
      • Diploma: Medical Office Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    Master's
      • MBA: Health Systems Management
      • MS in Health Care Administration
      • Master of Public Administration - Health Care Management
      • MS in Health Care Informatics
      • MS in Nursing: Health Care Informatics
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Health Care Administration
      • BS in Health Sciences: Professional Development & Advanced Patient Care
      • Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Health Science
  • Campus Locations:
    4. Brightwood College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Medical Billing and Coding Specialist - Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    5. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - HSA Mgt.
      • Bachelor of Healthcare Management
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Business Admin - Health Care Admin
      • PhD in Business Admin - Health Care Admin
    Master's
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
      • MBA - Health Care Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
    Master's
      • MS - Healthcare Management
      • MBA: Health Care Management
      • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management
      • MS - Healthcare Management - Informatics
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Health Care Management
      • BS - Business Administration - Health Care Management
      • B.S. - Health Care Management - Health Informatics
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Utica College

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Health Care Management
      • Masters in Health Care Administration
      • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Acute Care
      • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Long Term Care
      • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Service Organization
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Health and Human Services Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
      • HS Diploma with Focus in Health Care

Featured Schools

Keiser University

  • B.A. - Health Services Admin
  • Associate of Science - Medical Administrative Billing and Coding
  • Grad Business Certificate - Health Services Management

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Technology Management
  • Bachelor: Health Information Management
  • Associate of Science - Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist
  • Diploma: Medical Office Admin

What is your highest level of education?

Grand Canyon University

  • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • MBA: Health Systems Management
  • BS in Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Brightwood College

  • Medical Billing and Coding Specialist - Certificate

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Master of Healthcare Management
  • Master of Business Admin: Healthcare Admin
  • Bachelor of Healthcare Management - HSA Mgt.
  • Bachelor of Healthcare Management

Are you a US citizen?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Health Care Admin
  • PhD in Business Admin - Health Care Admin
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
  • MBA - Health Care Admin

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Health Care Management and Leadership
  • MS - Healthcare Management
  • B.S. - Health Care Management

Are you a US citizen?

Utica College

  • MBA - Health Care Management
  • Masters in Health Care Administration
  • Online Master of Science in Health Care Administration - Acute Care

What is your highest level of education completed?