The Role of Medical Assistants in Preventive Healthcare

  • Medical Assistant
  • January 1, 2024
  • 291 views
  • 4 min read
The Role of Medical Assistants in Preventive Healthcare

Everyone in America has heard about spiraling healthcare costs over the past several decades. This issue has become increasingly significant for personal finances and related to the federal budget deficit. 

To combat these out-of-control costs, the healthcare industry is placing greater emphasis on preventive healthcare. It is admittedly an uphill battle, and medical assistants will serve as some of the key players if such efforts are going to succeed. This article explores how medical assistance can contribute to preventive healthcare outcomes.

Patient Education

Medical assistants have an opportunity to play a vital role in health promotion and disease prevention. They spend the most one-on-one time with patients and have the most significant opportunity to impact patients’ understanding of provider recommendations.

In conjunction with licensed providers, medical assistants can guide patients about healthy lifestyle choices related to nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management. Although it would be outside their scope of practice to make direct patient recommendations, they are qualified to educate patients regarding provider recommendations.

Medical assistants can also spend time educating patients about disease prevention. They are critical in informing patients about the importance of regular health screenings (including routine bloodwork) and vaccinations. Again, healthcare providers are responsible for determining the strategy for disease prevention, but they often lack the time to sit with patients and educate them about the specific requirements.

Assisting with preventive procedures,

Medical assistants assist with various medical procedures, depending on the specialty focus of the healthcare setting where they work.

Medical assistants facilitate a large percentage of overall preventive health screenings. For example, most offices have medical assistants perform routine vital signs screening (e.g., blood pressure checks, heart rate, and breathing assessments) and intake patients’ chief complaints so that unusual information can be efficiently highlighted for the provider to review. Additionally, they may screen for conditions such as diabetes or perform venipunctures to facilitate screenings for high cholesterol via blood tests.

Medical assistants also frequently contribute to preventive healthcare initiatives via vaccine administration. They typically handle the administrative and clinical aspects of vaccinations, preparing the vaccines and administering them without direct supervision by a provider during the procedure. The provider is still responsible for prescribing the appropriate slate of vaccines and determining the administration schedule.

Managing Patient Information and Follow-ups 

Although it seems very basic, maintaining accurate patient records is critical to the success of preventative care initiatives. This ensures continuity of care and accurate tracking of patient health trends and outcomes. Medical assistants play a crucial role in keeping patient records accurate and up-to-date.

Medical assistants also play an essential role in ensuring patients are scheduled for regular checkups. They are often responsible for scheduling patients for follow-up appointments upon the conclusion of a medical exam. This responsibility may be assigned to clinical medical assistants or administrative medical assistants. Regular follow-ups are crucial for effective, preventive healthcare, as screenings and other examinations cannot occur if the patient does not attend their appointments.

Community Outreach and Public Health

Medical assistants can also play a role in advancing community outreach and public health initiatives. Over the past two decades, there has been a proliferation of health and wellness fares, community health centers, and medical outreach programs designed to bring preventive healthcare services to a broader population. These efforts are only economical with the support of medical professionals like medical assistants.

As they participate in such outreach initiatives, medical assistants may provide direct healthcare services such as medical screenings or patient education, as described above. Medical assistance can play a role in spreading awareness about general health and wellness and the importance of coming in for regular checkups with primary care providers.

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Conclusion 

Medical assistants can play an important role in preventive medical care. Whether they are working to educate patients, execute health screenings, or promote regular checkups with patients, they have a significant role in the broader healthcare ecosystem. If you are considering pursuing a healthcare career, working as a medical assistant is a rewarding and impactful way to start.

Author avatar
Author
Corey Del Pino, MPH, RPT
Dean Of Clinical Programs M.P.H. University of Nevada, Reno