Introduction to Medical Coding
Medical coding is the process of assigning standardized numerical codes to patient health care charts. This coded information is used to ensure that insurance companies, government organizations, such as Medicare, and patients alike all receive accurate billing statements for health services performed. Medical coders perform the work of converting diagnostic and procedural information into simplified numerical codes that can be electronically processed for payment by third party payers – Insurance companies and Medicare, for example.
The process of medical coding requires an attention to detail to ensure accuracy of billing records. Because of the large dollar amounts involved, coding is a highly regulated and tightly supervised activity. Coding is also subject to frequent and rigorous audits to ensure accuracy in the billing process as there are literally billions of dollars at stake. In many ways, medical coding is a much more scrutinized activity than, say the transcription of patient records.
Medical Coding work is typically performed in hospitals or clinics, although we are beginning to see some of these coding and billing jobs migrate to work at home positions. Medical coders generally begin with a transcribed patient health record and transform procedures and diagnoses etc. into numerical codes. This takes a great deal of expertise in medical terminology and a fluency with relevant codes. Of course this requires formal training. Billing specialists takes the coded output produced by the coder and submit it for reimbursement to insurance companies, Medicare, or directly to the patient. Many times a single person will perform both the coding and the billing functions. This is particularly true in smaller clinical settings. In large, high volume health care operations, coding and billing are often organized into separate functional areas. Of the two, coding specialists generally enjoy a higher income and require more specialized training.
Medical coders are in high demand and the opportunities in the career field of health records documentation are outstanding. Coders work in hospitals and clinics and for other health care providers across the country. They play a vital role in the health information management cycle.
Increasingly, the health information management industry is taking advantage of the rapid advances in online coding technology. More and more, the work is performed online over the internet. As online coding catches on as a concept, we will likely see many of the positions that have traditionally been offered exclusively in hospitals and other health care settings begin to migrate to home based jobs. The work at home employee model has worked very well for the transcription industry and will also likely begin to gain traction in the coding industry as online coding becomes more prevalent.
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6 Benefits of Choosing A Career In Medical Coding
Benefit #1: Great Pay. Entry level medical coders can improve their earning potential with skills and experience. There are a number of additional courses that can be taken as you progress through your career path that can help you improve your earning potential. Certification is one avenue that can assist. You can also move into management based positions where your skills have value.
Benefit #2: Many Opportunities. There are many different companies that need qualified and skilled medical coding staff ranging from hospitals, to practices to insurance companies. You can also pursue contract or remote opportunities which often have added fringe benefits such as higher pay rates. Medical coding is an interesting profession that can provide stimulating and rewarding opportunities to dedicated individuals.
Benefit #3: Short and flexible training time. Compared to other professions, a course in medical coding can be completed in a matter of months. This is great for individuals who are eager to get out into the workforce and start earning. For students that need to pace the learning to fit in with other commitments, online colleges provide a flexible learning schedule. Basically, the courses are designed to get you ready to take the exam. As soon as you pass, you can immediately start working.
Benefit #4: Work at home opportunities. Some companies will consider work at home arrangements. This is great for individuals who enjoy working from the comfort of their home. In particular, with the cost of childcare, stay at home mums can work out a schedule to accommodate work commitments and raise the children at the same time.
Benefit #5: Start your own business. Enterprising and ambitious individuals can examine the opportunities to start your own medical coding and billing business. By taking some additional business classes at the local college, you can setup and run the business as a contractor, sole proprietor or medical coding entity. You can grow your business to the size you desire and enjoy the tax benefits and income earning potential afforded to business owners.
Benefit #6: Career Satisfaction and Social interaction. Working in a medical coding and billing environment can provide the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. This can expand your social circle and bring you in touch with life long business associates and friends that can be richly reward.
A Guide To Medical Coding
These medical codes are complicated and coders need extensive training before they are exposed to the job market. Medical coding schools provide this training and educate students on the technicalities of the job. Medical coding is considered to be a complicated subject that requires accuracy and meticulousness on the part of the coder.
There are many guides and articles in magazines, as well as on the Internet that help a potential coder to acquire information about the subject. However, some of these articles and reviews are from companies that are trying to sell products such as coding software and these articles and guides may not always be reliable. This is because many companies try to blow their own trumpets and indulge in propaganda of their product rather than provide the correct information.
Medical coding not only requires the coders to be up-to-date with the new codes and procedures but it also demands good command of English, medical terminology and computer application skills. Correct and accurate information about this subject is available at various colleges that offer diplomas in this field and these are more reliable sources of information compared to any of the sites that offer online courses or guides to this subject.
It is advisable to investigate into any information that seems too good to be true because there are companies on the Internet that only provide information and advice for the sake of advertising only, or to promote some of their own interests. It is important to be aware of all the subjects that are taught in medical coding schools before starting the course.
Medical coding is a field that is connected to a booming industry that will definitely expand and become more and more advanced in the future. Therefore the opportunities are in abundance for the right type of candidate in this field.