Have you ever wondered how your insurance company determines what should be included on your medical bill after you visit your doctor? It is the job of a medical coder to take the physician's reports and translate that information into meaningful data that an insurance carrier can then use to process your bill. According to the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), medical coding is defined as "the transformation of healthcare diagnosis, procedures, medical services and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes." In other words, medical coders use a specialized knowledge of standardized codes to create the claim for payment from your healthcare provider. Medical coders play an integral role in maintaining a hospital or physician's health information management (HIM) system by ensuring that accurate data is relayed to the insurance company for financial purposes as well as to continue providing quality medical care. Here are some tips for landing a job in the medical coding services field.
1) Become familiar with the different types of medical codes.
The training that is required to become a medical coder is much less intense than for other jobs in the healthcare profession, but the programs do call for an extensive knowledge of the regulated medical codes used across medical facilities. There are six official code sets currently used in the United States, but the two main coding systems are CPT and ICD:
- Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) is the standard used in the United States. Maintained by the American Medical Association (AMA), CPT tells insurance companies how much a healthcare provider should be paid based upon the service provided.
- The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the international standard for documenting diagnoses worldwide. This system was created by the World Health Organization (WHO), and it indicates a patient's symptoms, injuries, and other conditions through an alphanumeric code.
2) Get certified.
Having professional credentials will make a huge difference in snagging a job as a medical coder. At the very least, all medical coders should obtain the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification. This certification shows that you are skilled in coding for outpatient settings. If you are more interested in working in a hospital or other medical facility with inpatient coding, the Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC) certification is recommended. The AAPC has a helpful chart to guide you through choosing the right certification for your career goals. Certification exams are typically offered year-round, and many of these tests can be taken online.
3) Brush up on your skills.
Not only do medical coders need to have a good understanding of the technical aspect of the coding system itself, but they also need to possess other crucial skills for getting the job done properly. With training and a more formal education, a medical coder can acquire the necessary knowledge of the coding systems that is needed. Coders also benefit from past experience with anatomy and physiology, health information technology, or customer billing. Some inherent skills that most coders have are keen attention to detail, research and analytical aptitude, organization, good time management, and computer literacy. Investing some time in polishing these skills will be helpful in finding a medical coding job.
Medical coding services are vital to every healthcare system, and the job market outlook is very good — the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently projected that growth in the field is likely to jump up 11 percent by the year 2028. Taking the steps above will help set you on the path to finding a medical coding job in this expanding field.
Contact a company that offers medical coding services to learn more.