Patient Care Coordinator Career Guide
A patient care coordinator, also known as a care coordinator or patient navigator, helps manage a patient’s healthcare and treatment needs while also maintaining open lines of communication between a patient and their healthcare providers.
Patient care coordinators must have excellent communication skills to perform their job effectively, as well as leadership qualities and a passion for helping individuals get the healthcare they need.
A patient care coordinator works in many different capacities on behalf of patients, including ensuring patients’ needs are met, handling administrative responsibilities, managing human resources and public relations duties, and assisting with a patient’s case management.
In this role, patient care coordinators can work for hospitals, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, nursing care facilities, and specialty care centers.
In a nutshell, a patient care coordinator acts as a liaison between patients and their healthcare providers while managing all the details of a patient’s care. As a result, some of the position’s typical day-to-day responsibilities include:
- Developing healthcare programs.
- Helping patients complete paperwork.
- Educating patients about their healthcare options.
- Maintaining open lines of communication between patients, their families, and healthcare providers.
- Managing each patient’s case while maintaining confidentiality.
- Hiring and training staff.
- Educating patients about their care.
- Providing referrals to specialists.
- Supporting concerns from parents, including communicating between a child’s primary care physician and other service providers.
- Monitoring a patient’s progress toward their healthcare goals.
- Making sure a patient receives high-quality care.
- Solving a wide array of problems when they arise.
- Recruiting and training staff.
To become a patient care coordinator, you’ll likely need to obtain a bachelor's degree in health services coordination or a related area of study. Care coordinators benefit greatly from practical experience in clinical settings, as well as an understanding of the business considerations of healthcare. Still, it’s important to emphasize that education needs largely depend on each employer’s requirements.
With these details in mind, 32.1% of patient care coordinators have a bachelor's degree, while 9.3% have master's degrees. Each of these programs helps students learn about medical coding, finance, office procedures, and transcription to prepare for their job as a patient care coordinator.
Health Services Coordination – B.S.
An online health degree program for students passionate about...
An online health degree program for students...
An online health degree program for students passionate about value-based care and dedicated to helping others.
- Time: 60% of graduates of similar programs finish within 3 years.
- Tuition and fees: $3,795 per 6-month term, plus a Health Professions Student Fee of $350.
Sample careers and jobs this degree will prepare you for:
- Care coordinator
- Patient advocate
- Health services coordinator
- Patient educator
- Community health educator
This degree allows you to work inside the healthcare industry, while also directly working with patients who need help.
No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!
Patient care coordinators need a wide variety of skills to adequately perform their job duties and address patient’s needs. Some of the most common include:
- Medical knowledge — Because patient care coordinators are tasked with communicating information between patients and providers while also answering questions about a patient’s concerns, they need to have a working familiarity with medical terminology, conditions, and treatment options. However, most positions don’t require patient care coordinators to maintain medical expertise, which is left in the hands of physicians.
- Strong verbal and written communication skills — Without solid verbal and written skills, patient care coordinators can’t effectively communicate between patients and their healthcare providers.
- Computer skills and proficiency in Microsoft Office — Part of communicating effectively involves working with computers and the Microsoft Office suite, so patient care coordinators must be proficient.
- Analytical skills — Patient care coordinators need to have strong analytical skills and the ability to handle multiple tasks concurrently.
- Customer service — Care coordinators need to be able to address a patient’s concerns and determine the best solutions quickly, whether over the phone, through email, or in person.
- Compassionate and empathetic nature — Patient care coordinators need to understand what patients are going through, empathize with their needs, and respond compassionately. This helps ensure patients comply with their prescribed treatment plans while also creating a level of trust.
- Above-average critical thinking skills — The outcomes of a patient’s treatment plans can largely hinge on a care coordinator’s decision-making skills since they can impact many different steps in the process, including the best ways for patients to continue their treatment or recover from their illnesses.
- Organization and attention to detail — Patient care coordinators work with several patients at the same time, including their financial data, medical history, prescription medications, treatment plans, and multiple nurses and primary care providers. Thus, patient care coordinators need to remain organized and pay attention to details to ensure patients receive the best care possible.
How Much Do Patient Care Coordinators Make?
According to ZipRecruiter, patient care coordinators in the United States earn an average of $16 per hour, which translates to about $35,000 per year. This number includes a low of $19,500 and a high of $47,000 annually. Location, level of experience, and level of education all influence how much a patient care coordinator is paid.
What Is the Projected Job Growth for a Patient Care Coordinator?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports employment in healthcare occupations—including registered nurses, physicians, surgeons, and dental hygienists—is projected to grow by 15% between 2019 to 2029.
Where Do Patient Care Coordinators Work?
Patient care coordinators work in various settings such as hospitals, doctors offices, dentist offices, nursing care facilities, specialty care centers, and public health programs.