The primary role of medical coders in all medical coding jobs is to accurately and thoroughly process medical claims for physicians, clinics, hospitals and other medical facilities, with the ultimate goal of receiving payment from healthcare insurance providers, for services rendered. Although terms like “back shop”, back office” and “support staff” are often used to describe medical coding jobs, they are viewed by the medical professionals as extremely vital. In fact an efficient and competent coder is highly valued and well respected.
When a patient meets with a doctor, a file is opened and referred to as a patient encounter. In turn a number is assigned to the patient encounter and referred to as a CPT Code. Once a diagnosis is made by the physician, a second code called an ICD Code is assigned to the file and pertains to the specific diagnosis. These codes are crucial in that they are used by healthcare insurance providers to track funding disbursements, payment errors, and reduce the risk of fraudulent claims.
General Skill Requirements
First and foremost, medical coding jobs require the use of computers, and therefore, a medical coder must feel comfortable using and working with a computer. Also, medical coding requires the use of specialized software programs so it can be advantageous to be a quick learner and posses some trouble shooting skills.
Further, an aptitude for working with numbers and paying particular attention to detail is a must. Accuracy is the key to expediting a medical claim, and receiving reimbursement from the insurance organization. Mistakes cost time, money, and delay the payment process.
While medical coding jobs are viewed primarily as an administrative function, most successful medical coders possess great communication and interpersonal skills. These are the people who not only are the most efficient and efficient, but receive career advancements and generally attract higher compensation. A good medical coder communicates effectively with physicians, insurance organization, and patients on occasion, to resolve questions and issues which may arise.
Training, Education, Certification
Like any career, training, education, and professional certifications have a direct effect on level of compensation and future advancement opportunities. At bare minimum, medical billing and coding jobs require a high school education. If serious about a career in the medical coding field, it is advisable to enroll in an entry level course, either online or in the classroom. Most potential employers will look at this favorably and allow the courses to be taken while learning on the job. Course costs range from $800 to $2,200 which over the long run will pay off in leaps and bounds.
The first goal should be the attainment of a Certified Professional Coder or CPC as it is referred to within the industry. This accredited certification is offered through the American Academy of Professional Coders, or AAPC. As experience is gained, and career goals are further defined, there are many educational paths which can be taken leading to senior positions such as hospital and clinic management, or medical office operations.
Finally, medical coding jobs are currently in great demand. They provide an important role to physicians, doctors, hospitals, medical clinics and other medical facilities. The job can be rewarding and provides the opportunity to make a decent living and provides a basis for future career advancements.