What Does an Intake Specialist Do?

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  • Written By: Maggie Worth
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
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Intake specialists are professionals who literally help people enter institutions or organizations. Positions with this title exist at a wide variety of employers, including healthcare establishments, staffing agencies, governmental program offices, research facilities, educational institutions and penal facilities. The specific tasks associated with the job can vary based on the employer, but the primary goal of an intake specialist is to obtain and document information needed to begin working with the customer, patient, client or inmate.

The title of an intake specialist is very descriptive. This person is often the first employee with whom a client or patient interacts. Such specialists are frequently located in a front office or area, and may be the first step in an admissions process.

Healthcare is one of the industries in which an intake specialist may be employed. Hospitals and doctor's offices sometimes refer to this position as a patient access associate, but many allied clinics, particularly mental health, weight loss and addiction recovery clinics, still use the term "intake specialist." In these types of situations, the specialist is responsible for verifying and documenting basic patient information, such as name, date of birth and address; for noting symptoms; and for documenting insurance information. The specialist is often responsible for explaining procedures and rules as they apply to the person checking in and may be required to perform luggage searches in some cases.


In a governmental setting, the intake specialist is often responsible for registering an applicant for a program. This can be temporary or permanent assistance, such as supplemental income benefits, disaster relief programs, veteran's benefits or unemployment insurance. In these cases, such specialists will document client information and may also need to request and review proof of eligibility documents.

Penal facilities also employ intake specialists. This includes juvenile detention facilities, jails, prisons, penitentiaries and more. In this situation, an intake specialist is responsible for verifying inmate identity and information, and for completing all required paperwork regarding custody transfers and other legal matters. The intake specialist will generally perform, oversee or assist in a body and possessions search, and may collect and store disallowed personal effects as per procedure.

Many other types of establishments hire intake specialists as well. At a medical, scientific or psychological research facility, for instance, an intake specialist might document patient information and collect medical histories and current vital signs. In a morgue, the specialist would sign chain of custody documents, complete paperwork and file personal effects. Additionally, at a staffing or talent agency, the specialist might assist applicants in competing paperwork, verify identity as per governmental regulations and administer typing or other tests.


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