Whether you’re under the care of a team of specialists for a disease like breast cancer or going for a routine yearly pap smear with your general practitioner, you want to be sure you’re receiving the highest quality care possible. Most medical centers employ a quality improvement health care specialist to assure patients of high quality care at all levels. The specialist works to ensure her medical center or practice adheres to medical rules and regulations and offers top-notch medical services.
Earning the Credentials
At minimum, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in a health services field, and many employers give preference to candidates with a master’s degree, especially in health administration or public health. You’ll also need professional experience, generally at least one or two years in quality improvement and project management. Not required by every employer, certification as a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality, Certified Professional Coder or Registered Health Information Technician gives you a leg up against other candidates.
Showing Off Your Skills
You’ll not only need a solid education and experience, but you’ll also need certain skills to fulfill the duties of a quality improvement health care specialist. Specialty skills include knowledge in Federally Qualified Health Center, Patient Centered Medical Home and Meaningful Use concepts, along with Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs, according to the Community Health Care Association of New York State. You should also be knowledgeable in electronic health record systems, and Microsoft Office. General skills you need include strong oral and written communication skills, the ability to give presentations and a willingness to work in a team setting. Other talents you’ll need include flexibility, a solid work ethic and self-motivation.
Doing the Duties
Your main focus as a quality improvement health care specialist is managing the quality assurance process for a health organization. This includes understanding the rules for the state and applying those regulations, or making sure the medical center applies the rules. You’ll typically train other medical personnel on quality improvement principles so they can utilize those concepts in their own departments. Working with management, you’ll create quality improvement projects to bring that organization up to standard and draft policies and procedures for all personnel to follow. Typically, the specialist reports to a quality improvement manager.
Taking on Other Responsibilities
Besides the day-to-day duties, you’ll have other responsibilities, such as keeping detailed records and creating reports for the quality improvement projects you establish. If you work for a third-party organization that assists medical centers in quality improvement, you’ll offer on-site quality assurance evaluations and possibly organize clinics and workshops to educate and inform staff members. Other duties include prepping for quality assurance audits and collecting and analyzing medical data to see how your employer stacks up compared to other organizations.
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