Medical assistants as flow managers in primary care: Challenges and recommendations

Caroline P. Gray, Michael I. Harrison, Dorothy Hung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


As healthcare organizations look for ways to reduce costs and improve quality, many rely increasingly on allied healthcare professionals and, in particular, medical assistants (MAs) to supplement the work of physicians and other health professionals. MAs usually work in primary care, where they often play important roles on healthcare teams. Drawing on an empirical study of a large, multispecialty delivery system engaged in reconfiguration of primary care, we found that using MAs as flow managers required overcoming several challenges. These included entrenched social and occupational hierarchies between physicians and MAs, a lack of adequate training and mentorship, and difficulty attracting and retaining talented MAs. We offer several recommendations for healthcare organizations interested in using MAs as flow managers in their practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-191
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Healthcare Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


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