IntroductionHelping people who are sick, in need of medical assistance is a noble profession that is satisfying provided we have the aptitude for it. Traditionally, doctors and nurses were the key individuals but now given the complexity of healthcare, a person who is neither of the above can still make a difference as a patient coordinator.
Medical Care and its coordinationHospitals are busy environments wherein multiple teams with various skill sets all work in coordination with one primary aim, help the patient get the best medical care within a reasonable time limit. For a simple viral fever or a minor injury, we may not need to visit various departments go back often to the hospital. But, if one were to seek treatment for cancer, a chronic disease that needs the attention of multiple specialists or a major surgery (like CABG (heart surgery), transplant of kidneys, liver), then it would be difficult for the patient and the families to run around to various unfamiliar places in the hospital, collect reports, take appointments. This would be an unnecessary burden for someone who already has to deal with emotional, professional and financial issues that have arisen related to the illness.
Some patients who travel long distances to new cities and town are literally lost in the hospital system and may struggle to find help in an out of hospitals; some may even get discouraged to visit the hospitals later on. Here, the role of a patient coordinator is vital, a person who forms the link between the patient and the other numerous people from the healthcare sector who play a role in the planning, delivery, and follow-up of treatment.
Desired qualities in a patient coordinator
In terms of degrees, one need not be a graduate always to seek such jobs. If you have healthcare experience and good skills hospitals would employ even a candidate with 12th qualifications in the smaller hospitals. Having nursing and non-clinical experience would also be optional, if one is a nurse and wants to take a break from the hectic workload of actually caring for the patient or wants to explore other opportunities for career growth, this job can be considered. Similarly, someone who has been manning the hospital help-desk, reception, cash counters and billing can also think about becoming a coordinator with some short-term training. For a better position, pay package and a high-end hospital, it would be desirable to have a graduation degree and hospital care experience.
RemunerationThe salary package is variable depending on the hiring hospital, hospital brand, experience, and geographic location. The remuneration usually is along the lines of a fresher nurse or a hospital customer care staff. The salary range is between 75,000-2.5L/annum (size of the hospital unit and the department in which the job is related to is also in important).
Scope or areas of workClinical side
Here, although there is no direct day to day interaction with the patients during their treatment, one would be involved in coordinating the other aspects related to patient care. For instance, customer satisfaction surveys, handling direct contact lines related to a specialty, involved in electronic medical records, financial services, looking after outsources services related to a specific department etc.
How to prepare to become a patient coordinatorOne needs to do some background work before approaching the hospitals for this job. If there is no prior experience of working in a hospital, then it would be wise to become a customer care staff in any major hospital. This would give exposure of how the hospital system actually works, what are the departments, when, where and how patients go for their treatment medical and surgical. It also gives an insight of the administrative departments that are related to patient care ( billing, insurance, finance, house-keeping etc).
If one has already hands-on experience, then he/she needs to fine-tune the CV and start applying. One can look for such jobs on the websites of well-known hospital chains (Private, Corporate, and Government institutions), can approach the HR department of major hospitals and submit a CV. You can also check the online job portal sites.
Once you get an interview offer, it would be advisable to visit the hospital first, have a look around, know the departments, speak to the nurses in the OPD block or the blood collection unit to get an insight about how the system works.
ConclusionIf one has the passion to help people and make a career in healthcare, then becoming a patient coordinator is a good choice to consider. It needs basic skills to interact and help patients by becoming the nodal point for what a patient with an illness needs and what, where and how the hospital offers it. This can be done even if one is not a doctor or a nurse and being a coordinator can be a rewarding experience if one has the right attitude.