Written Communication For Administrative Medical Assistant

One of the key responsibilities of the administrative medical assistant is written communication. All written material produced by the ambulatory care setting is critical, for it reflects positively or negatively on the professionalism of the office. Letters to patients, to referring physicians, to other health care organizations, and even interoffice correspondence should be thoughtfully composed, carefully produced according to the style selected by the office manager, and mailed and delivered in a way that is both time- and cost-efficient.

When they are produced with care, written communications can be a time-consuming part of the administrative medical assistant's day. This is why Marilyn Johnson, CMA, the office manager at Doctors Lewis & King, has compiled a style manual for the two-physician practice. Marilyn is clearly aware that professional looking and sounding letters send a message to all recipients. Yet, she wants to make correspondence writing and producing as efficient as possible, and her style manual provides an easy-to-use resource for anyone in the office responsible for composing or sending written documents.

In her style manual, Marilyn has included examples of the ''house" letter format, which is a block style; a list of commonly used medical terms for easy spelling reference; answers to common questions staff have in regard to word usage; proofreader's marks; proper addressing procedures for envelopes and packages, depending on whether they are being sent by United States mail or by an alternative delivery method; and a quick list of the best ways to send various types of correspondence. Marilyn has also included a list of "Do Nots" in order to help her staff avoid mistakes in their written communications.

While written correspondence is important in conveying a professional image of the ambulatory care setting, it must be remembered that written documents also provide a permanent or legal record in the event of any litigation and thus must be carefully and accurately worded. In most ambulatory care settings, medical assistants will be responsible both for composing documents and for medical transcription. In either event, conscientious medical assistants will always remember that the quality of the correspondence is reflective of the standards of the medical office.