What Skills Do You Need to Be an Electronic Medical Records Abstractor/Auditor?

By Robert Half January 22, 2019 at 8:00am

Do you have an outstanding eye for detail? Are you familiar with medical terminology? Do you like using the latest technology? If so, you might want to consider a job as an electronic medical records (EMR) abstractor or auditor.

What is a medical records abstractor?

EMR abstractor/auditors select and extract data from patient records for a variety of purposes, often as part of healthcare reporting requirements. One of those is the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS), a widely used set of performance measures in the managed care industry.

The abstractor job is heavily influenced by the shift to electronic medical records by healthcare systems, hospitals, medical offices and health plans. Bringing a keen eye for detail and strong software knowledge, these professionals help healthcare offices update their record keeping and find trends in patients and their diagnostics/care using the latest technology.

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What are the daily responsibilities?

The job duties of an electronic medical records auditor/abstractor include reviewing patient files and abstracting (i.e., extracting) key data and information. These details are then entered into electronic files.

Sometimes you'll work with paper files, but you may also have to transfer data from one EMR to another. In some cases, you’ll serve as a liaison with other offices, so you must keep your verbal and written communication skills sharp.

What skills are healthcare employers looking for?

Just as they are with medical office administrator roles, healthcare employers are looking for administrative professionals with keen analytical and project management skills. In this industry, though, you'll also need an understanding of medical terminology and the healthcare system in general. These skills will help you identify what details are crucial to patient care and therefore should be included in abstracts. Attention to detail is crucial: One tiny fact left out of a patient file could have life-or-death consequences.

No matter what office you work in, your communication skills as an electronic medical records abstractor/auditor need to be outstanding, because you’ll be interacting with internal and external staff, and sometimes directly with patients.

You’ll also need stellar keyboarding skills and must be very comfortable working on a computer. Skill using dual monitors is important, as you’ll sometimes be working between multiple databases. Experience with popular healthcare software, such as Allscripts, Epic, NextGen, Centricity, Meditech and Cerner is highly prized. Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite is also key.

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