17 Medical Abstractor Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from a medical abstractor, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

A medical abstractor is a health professional who reviews and summarizes patient medical records. The summary is then used by the patient’s physician to make treatment decisions.

If you’re interested in becoming a medical abstractor, you’ll need to have a strong foundation in medical terminology and knowledge of different disease processes. You’ll also need to be able to effectively communicate with physicians and other health care professionals.

During a medical abstractor interview, you’ll be asked questions about your medical knowledge, your ability to use different medical software programs, and your experience working with electronic medical records. You may also be asked behavioral interview questions about your ability to handle confidential information and work well under pressure.

To help you prepare for your interview, we’ve compiled a list of sample medical abstractor interview questions and answers.

Common Medical Abstractor Interview Questions

Are you comfortable working with confidential information?

Medical abstractors often work with confidential information, such as medical records. Employers ask this question to make sure you understand the importance of keeping patient information private and safe. In your answer, explain that you are committed to maintaining confidentiality at all times. Explain that you will only share information with others when it is absolutely necessary for completing a task.

Example: “Yes, I am very comfortable working with confidential information. As someone who values privacy, I would never share any patient information unless it was absolutely necessary. For example, if my supervisor asked me to send them a copy of a patient’s record so they could review it, I would do so. However, I would not share that information with anyone else without their permission.”

What are some of the most important skills for a medical abstractor?

Interviewers may ask this question to learn more about your skills and abilities as a medical abstractor. They want to know what you think are the most important skills for this role, so they can see if you have them. When answering this question, it can be helpful to list several skills that you feel are essential for working in this field.

Example: “I believe some of the most important skills for a medical abstractor include attention to detail, strong communication skills and computer knowledge. I am very organized, which helps me work quickly but accurately. I also enjoy helping others, so I find that my communication skills help me interact with patients and their families. Finally, I have been using computers since I was young, so I am comfortable with technology and familiar with many different software programs.”

How would you organize a medical record if you received one that was disorganized and lacked a clear structure?

This question can help interviewers assess your organizational skills and ability to work with disorganized records. Use examples from previous experience to show how you would organize the record, including any steps you would take to ensure it was easy for others to understand.

Example: “If I received a medical record that lacked structure, I would first try to determine what type of organization system it used. If there were no obvious systems in place, I would create my own based on the patient’s diagnosis or treatment plan. For example, if I received a record without an apparent structure, but it had clearly labeled sections for each year, I would use those as the basis for organizing the record.”

What is your experience with using medical terminology?

This question can help the interviewer determine your level of experience with medical terminology and how you apply it to abstracting. Use examples from previous work or education to show that you understand medical terms and their definitions.

Example: “I have a bachelor’s degree in biology, so I’ve had extensive training in medical terminology throughout my academic career. In my last position as an abstractor, I was responsible for creating reports using complex medical terminology. I would first read through the patient’s chart to familiarize myself with the terminology used by the physician before beginning the report. This helped me ensure that I understood each term correctly and accurately applied them to the report.”

Provide an example of a time when you had to communicate sensitive information about a patient to their family.

Interviewers may ask this question to assess your communication skills and ability to handle sensitive information. When answering, it can be helpful to provide an example of a time when you had to deliver bad news about a patient’s diagnosis or prognosis.

Example: “In my previous role as a medical abstractor, I often communicated with family members about their loved one’s condition. One time, I was working on the case of a patient who had been in a car accident. The patient was in critical condition, but we were able to stabilize them. After they stabilized, I called the patient’s family to let them know that he would survive his injuries. While they were relieved to hear the good news, they also expressed concern over how long it would take for him to recover from his injuries.”

If you received two patients’ records that had conflicting information, how would you resolve the issue?

This question can help the interviewer determine how you would handle a challenging situation in your role as an abstractor. Use examples from previous experience to show that you are able to resolve conflicts and work with others to find solutions.

Example: “If I received two patients’ records that had conflicting information, I would first try to contact both patients to see if they could clarify what was written on their record. If this did not solve the issue, I would then speak with my supervisor or manager about the conflict so we could decide which information should be used for treatment purposes.”

What would you do if you noticed a mistake in a patient’s record after it had already been sent to a doctor?

This question can help interviewers understand how you handle mistakes and what your process is for fixing them. It’s important to show that you are willing to take responsibility for your actions, apologize when necessary and learn from the mistake so it doesn’t happen again in the future.

Example: “If I noticed a mistake after sending an abstract, I would immediately contact the doctor who received the record and let them know about the error. Then, I would send a corrected version of the record with all of the information updated. If I made the mistake while creating the original record, I would make sure to fix it before sending it on to my supervisor for approval.”

How well can you prioritize your work to ensure you meet deadlines?

This question can help the interviewer determine how well you manage your time and attention to detail. Use examples from previous work experiences where you had to prioritize tasks or projects, and highlight your ability to meet deadlines.

Example: “In my last role as a medical abstractor, I was responsible for entering patient information into our electronic health record system. This required me to enter data such as demographics, insurance information and billing details. In order to ensure that I met all of my deadlines, I prioritized this task over other administrative duties so I could focus on entering data accurately and in a timely manner. By doing this, I was able to complete my work before the end of each day.”

Do you have experience using medical record software to digitize paper documents?

This question can help an interviewer determine your experience with the tools you’ll use in this role. If you have no prior experience, consider asking if there is training available to learn how to use these software programs.

Example: “I’ve used medical record software for several years now and find it very helpful when working with paper documents. I prefer using a program that allows me to enter information into a database so I can easily search for specific details later. This helps me ensure I’m entering all relevant information about a patient’s visit or diagnosis into their electronic medical record.”

When reading a patient’s record, what is your process for identifying important information?

This question can help the interviewer understand how you approach your work and what skills you use to complete it. Use examples from previous experience to show that you know how to prioritize information and make decisions about which details are most important.

Example: “I first read through all of the patient’s medical history, including their current diagnosis, medications they take and any other relevant information. I then look at the billing codes for each visit to see if there have been any changes in the patient’s condition or treatment plan. If there is a change in the billing code, I will also check the reason for the change so I can ensure I am accurately recording the new information.”

We want to improve our record keeping process to reduce the likelihood of human error. What is one strategy you would implement to improve our system?

This question is an opportunity to show your problem-solving skills and ability to make improvements in the workplace. Your answer should include a specific strategy you would use to improve record keeping processes, along with the benefits of implementing that strategy.

Example: “I would implement a barcode scanning system for all patient records. This system would allow me to scan each document into the computer using a barcode scanner, which would then automatically upload the information into our electronic medical records database. This process would reduce the likelihood of human error by eliminating the need to type in data manually.”

Describe your experience working with a team of doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.

Working as a medical abstractor requires you to work with many different types of professionals. Employers ask this question to make sure you have experience working in a team setting and collaborating with others. Use your answer to explain what it’s like to work alongside other healthcare providers. Explain that you enjoy the collaborative nature of the job and how it allows you to learn from others.

Example: “I’ve worked as a medical abstractor for five years now, so I’ve had plenty of time to collaborate with doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. Collaborating with my colleagues is one of my favorite parts of the job because it gives me an opportunity to learn new things every day. Every professional has their own unique way of doing things, which makes each day interesting. I also love being able to help out my coworkers when they need it.”

What makes you an ideal candidate for this position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you can contribute to their team. Before your interview, make a list of all the skills and experiences that relate to this role. Think about what makes you unique compared to other candidates.

Example: “I have several years of experience as an abstractor, so I know exactly what it takes to do this job well. In my previous position, I was responsible for creating reports from medical records in many different formats. I am familiar with most common coding systems, which is something I think will be useful here. I also understand the importance of confidentiality when handling sensitive information. This is why I always take extra care to ensure patient privacy.”

Which medical abstracting certification do you hold, and how has it helped you in your career?

The interviewer may ask this question to learn more about your experience and qualifications. If you have a certification, share what it is and how it helped you in your career. If you don’t have one, you can still answer the question by describing your education or work history.

Example: “I hold the Certified Professional Medical Abstractor (CPMA) credential from the American Association of Professional Medical Abstractors. This certification has helped me throughout my career because I know that I’m qualified for the job and am familiar with industry standards. It also helps me stay up-to-date on new developments in medical abstracting.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of keeping accurate medical records?

This question is an opportunity to show your interviewer that you understand the importance of accuracy in medical records. You can answer this question by explaining how important it is for patients to have access to their own medical information and how it impacts their health care outcomes.

Example: “The most important aspect of keeping accurate medical records is ensuring that patients have access to their own medical information. Having easy access to their own medical history allows patients to make informed decisions about their healthcare, which leads to better treatment outcomes. I also think it’s important to keep patient information confidential because it helps them feel more comfortable with their care.”

How often do you update your knowledge of medical terminology?

This question can help interviewers understand your commitment to learning and growing as a medical abstractor. You can answer this question by describing how you stay up-to-date on the latest terminology in medicine.

Example: “I am always looking for ways to improve my knowledge of medical terminology. I have taken several online courses that teach me new terms, and I also subscribe to newsletters from professional organizations that provide updates on current medical trends. I find these resources helpful because they allow me to learn about new developments in medicine without having to spend time searching for them.”

There is a new disease that doctors don’t have much information on. How would you go about researching it?

This question is a great way to show your knowledge of medical abstracting and how you can use it in the real world. When answering this question, make sure that you explain what steps you would take when researching a new disease.

Example: “I have had to research many diseases throughout my career as an abstractor. I find that the best way to do so is by looking at similar symptoms and comparing them to other diseases. This helps me narrow down which disease it could be and then I look up more information on that specific disease.”


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