Learn Medical Coding

Medical coding is the process of giving stereotypical alphanumerical codes to different clinical diagnosis, treatment or other therapeutic conditions.  Although many certification programs and associates degrees have various educational requirements, both paths offer top courses that prepare students for careers in this branch of healthcare. Associates degree programs will offer you more general courses in medical terminologies: anatomy, physiology, medicine, surgery, medical coding policies, insurance laws etc. that will prepare you not only for several certification exams but also a broader career in the healthcare industry.Learn Medical Coding

Medical Terminology:  As a medical coder, you should know some medical terminologies during your academic life, such as, test, diagnosis, screening, blood, infection, inflammation, various diseases, malaise, treatment, prescription, surgery, intensive care etc.

Subject Matter: During your academia, it is always recommended you understand the basics of anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, medicine, surgery and Physiology as much details as you can. This will be very helpful in your career.

Medical Coding & Billing: How to give proper code to different services offered to patients in different healthcare institutions is the main technical job for any medical coding professionals. You will learn it practically during your internships. But it is always expected that you will know that basics of medical coding or billing process during your academic life.

Internships: Internship is a very important part for every medical coding professional to understand the depth of the industry as well as what will be the job responsibility of a medical coder in this industry. If you really work hard in these days, you must learn hand to hand how the coding process is done, what laws and policies are followed during this coding process and how the payments are facilitated.

Clinical Classification Systems & Health Information Management: You will know these terms during your academia, but unless or until you enter into a medical coding or billing job, you will not learn these in details. These are mainly organization driven or practically operation-driven areas that can vary country to country, state to state or even hospital to hospital.

Certification: Your aim of becoming a successful medical coder will not be fulfilled until you get a professional certification. Many professional bodies provide certifications upon fulfilling their membership criteria and assessment test. American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC) and American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) are two renowned certification awarding bodies among them.  Getting their certification upon graduation from a coding college is a great boost for one’s medical coding career. At present, AAPC has almost 125000 professional coders under their umbrella. And the numbers are growing every now and then.  So, if you have already completed your certificate degree or associate degree, take AAPC membership and sit for the AAPC certification exam. Then, you will be designated as Certified professional Coder (CPC) or Certified Professional Biller (CPB).  However, getting certified is not the end. As the profession is evolving very fast, news rules and techniques are getting noticed every now and then, in order to become successful in this profession, you also need to be updated.  As for examples, coding guidelines ICD-10 is going to be introduced next year. Every medical coder should get acquainted with this before its introduction.

Is Medical Coding a Good Career?

When an individual is thinking about getting a new skill in healthcare field, they may consider taking a medical coding and billing course. This type of education will train someone for the position of billing patients and agencies within the health care industry. There are many positions available in many health care settings that can make it more appealing for the candidate.

Is Medical Coding a Good CareerThe person who does the encryption of all the information in a healthcare setting is called medical coder or Professional medical coder or medical coding specialist or medical billing specialist. Medical coders are likely to be in high-demand in future. Even though software has been developed to help, a qualified person is mandatory to enter the information, and follow up on any irregularities between the health care provider (physician), the hospital, and the insurance company. An effective and efficient coder is very crucial to the financial success of a practice. The coders help the doctors to get reimbursed accurately and timely manner. The hours for medical coders are exactly set and many skilled coders don’t have to receive the call or work long nights or weekends. Usually a 40-hour per week, Monday to Friday, is just enough. Adding to that, medical coding can be an excellent first step into a productive, profitable career in medical office organization, supervision or operations.

Medical coders usually do not have much communication with patients. If you really like a lot of regular interaction with patients then this role is not for you. Additionally, medical coding can be a routine job. So if you’re searching for a lot of variety and excitement, or if you’re not in quest of a desk job, medical coding may not be right for you. However, considering the competitive academia and future job prospects, medical coding or medical billing might be the perfect ticket for your healthcare career.

There are many medical service companies in the USA where regular job circular for medical coder or medical billing specialist is found. Accentus, Amphion Medical Services, Aviacode, The Coding Network, LLC, Conifer Health Solutions, Humana, Lexicode are some of them. They often require certification like CCS or CCS-P or CPC or CPC-H in order to find the right medical coding professional in US or Canada. Sometimes, RHIA or RHIT certification might also do the job in order to become a certified medical coder. For example, Humana, a well-known medical coder hiring company hires independent-contractor coders with 2-3 years of coding experience and at least one certification. They usually pay more salary to those coders who hold more experience and certification in this field. Most of the major health care company’s work-at-home positions have also geographic requirements. Its medical coding jobs from home require coding certification (RHIT, RHIA, or CCS) and may require occasional travel to its headquarters. So, if one wish to develop a carrier in healthcare industry, but don’t want to give 3-8 years of life in academia, medical coding carrier is the right choice for them.

Medical Coder Resume

Nowadays, 172,500 professionals are employed as medical billing and coding employees in US. In next 10 years of time, this profession is likely to grow by 20 percent because there is a growing need to meet for the baby boomers. Medical coders presently have a good advancement potential in their carrier. An entry level medical coder resume must consist of 4 parts:

  • Academic degrees
  • Certification
  • Internship experience
  • References

A typical entry level medical coder resume may also explain about the following soft skills:

  • Efficiency in reviewing and allocating correct medical codes in diagnoses, billing, reviewing and record-keeping.
  • Expertise in various basics of various subject matters, i.e. anesthesiology, radiology, medicine, microbiology, surgical procedures, medical laws, insurance laws etc.
  • Very good knowledge on medical compliance and reimbursement and how to include this into process.
  • Effective communication (both oral and written), administrative and managerial skill.

A CPC certification exam consists of: 150 multiple choice questions and it require more than 5 hours finishing the test. It would cost you approximately $300.00 (for AAPC member only $260). It is always recommended to take the test before entering into the job market. That will boost you resume as a skilled medical coder. Through the CPC exam you will learn the ICT-9 and HCPCS-II codes used in following services in a healthcare setting:

  • Radiology
  • Anesthesia
  • Medicine
  • Endocrine
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Digestive
  • Kidney
  • Evaluation and Management
  • Anatomy & Physiology
  •  Diaphragm & bone marrow
  • Practice Management
  • Pain management
  • Male/Female Genital
  • Maternity & Delivery
  • Eye
  • Coding Guidelines
  • Medical Terminology
  • Pathology
  • Medical Laboratory

However, in resume recruiters often look for a associate degree from an accredited college and a certification credential from AIHMA, AAPC or HCPCS. This assures head hunters about the quality of candidates. In your resume, you could also inform that you are capable to work flexibly from home or far away distances. Even when required can do the night shifts according to the need of the patients and other healthcare professionals.

In this position, it is also mandatory that you uphold a good writing and speaking skill on English language. If you have done any other language course like Spanish, French, Chinese, German or Arabic, you could add those. That would add more value.

Medical Coder ResumeYou could add your academic project or summary of internship report in your resume. In that, you can prove that you have got some sorts of medical coding and billing experience. Through that you have practically learned ICT codes, medical coding rules and regulations, patient records, bill denials and above all, alphanumerical code encryption in day to day activities. These you certainly give confidence to employers in hiring you if you could do that smartly.

Last but not the least you must have strong MS Office skill (ms word, ms excel, ms access, ms outlook, ms power point). Without these skills you cannot survive in this profession.

Medical Coding Job Description

In today’s giant health care industry, it requires medical billing and coding professionals to process expenses from insurance providers and patients. These professionals work with patients, insurance providers, individuals in many other healthcare careers and others to confirm expense is received for services delivered. About one-third of all billing personnel are working in the Health care industry, where medical coding is a fundamental part of the billing procedure. Training for jobs in medical billing and coding consists of coursework that tells how universal codes are used to designate whether the service offered in a doctor’s office, an outpatient medical center or in the critical care unit of a hospital. Another set of codes will point out about the doctor’s diagnosis and medication, if any, was prescribed for therapeutic purposes. Additional codes are often used to indicate the sort of insurance a patient has and what amount the patient have to pay from his pocket.

Medical Coding Job DescriptionMost patient accounts are maintained electronically nowadays, which has made the accounts payable department in doctor’s offices and hospitals more efficient. Health care professionals such as physicians, registered nurses and radiology technicians enter the suitable codes into a database at the time of a patient’s visit. Peoples in medical billing and coding jobs then take the information and bill the appropriate parties. They check with a patient’s insurance provider to make sure it will cover procedures or services rendered and at what percentage of the total cost. Medical coders need to be familiar with health care databases that are designed to hold the medical coding system. Because they work with patient records that are protected under HIPAA laws, certain safety measures must be taken to uphold confidentiality. Individuals in this occupation work closely with informatics specialists – information technology personnel who work with health care records – concerning database security matters.

In today’s ever growing medical industry, many recruiters often ask for following characteristics in job description of the candidates in their circular:

  • Proficiency in reviewing and assigning exact medical codes for diagnoses, procedures, and services performed by doctors and other qualified health care providers
  • Skilled in a wide range of services, including assessment and management, anesthesia, surgical services, medical technology, radiology, pathology and medicine
  • A sound knowledge of medical coding policy and regulations including compliance and compensation – allowing a CPC to better handle matters such as medical necessity, claims denials, charge capture and other health related issues.
  • knowing how to integrate medical coding and compensation rule changes into a practice’s compensation processes
  • Have basic knowledge of anatomy, physiology, microbiology and other medical terminologies necessary to properly code provider diagnosis and other patient focused services.

Whereas three basic criteria remains the first selection choice for most of the healthcare companies, recruiting agencies or hospitals:

  • Academic credentials: Minimum 1 year certificate or 2 year associate degree.
  • Professional certification: AAPC, AIHMA or such type of well known certification.
  • Experience: hand-on-hand professional experience as a medical coder in a healthcare setting.

Online Medical Billing And Coding Jobs

American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC) has now more than 127000 register coders under their umbrella. There are also some medical coders who have not yet registered for AAPC membership. Finding the right job after the graduation was never easy in any profession. It is also the same for the graduate medical coders. However, some coders may find a job in the hospital or medical center where he/ she have completed internship. But for most of them, job searching and getting the right one was always a strenuous task.

From that need, many top jobs searching site in US is providing online circular of lots of medical coding jobs. Indeed.com, Monster.com, and SimplyHired.com are some of the renowned websites that post lots of medical coding and billing jobs online. All you just have to open a good profile and apply to various coding and billing jobs in healthcare industry. Adding to that you can give hard copy of you well made resume to various medical institutions that regularly recruits coding or billing professionals. Based on the weight of your resume and the performance you can show in the job interview you will be given a chance to prove yourself as a professional medical coder. As the pattern of medical coding jobs suggest it should be done online in a compliant and regulated way. So you must have some necessary skills other than academic knowledge such as how to effectively and efficiently use internet, MS office, strong communication, data entry and good record keeping skills. If you are good at those you are on the go. Yes, you must shine in this profession.

Online Medical Billing And Coding JobsAs for example, Michael is selected as an entry level medical coder for the Mayo clinic, Manhattan, New York. He has been working efficiently for 2 years. But now he is leaving New York State and settling in Florida. What he would do? First, he would the matter to his supervisor Sylvia, Medical Information Manager. If she gives a positive feedback, then he would give a letter to the clinic management authority about continuing his job although he will be residing far away from the clinic premises. In case of medical coding, most of the hospital would agree that their experienced coding employees can easily work online no matter where they are now. Even, in case of absolutely new employees most of the hospitals require their coding employees should come at least 1 day in hospital premises. And, rest 5-6 days they can easily work online from home. Yes, this is basically an online job.

That is why, what type of documentation, storage, coding and billing Sylvia wants, Michael can deliver from Florida. It is very interesting. But of course he has to maintain the ICD-9 guidelines and all other related medical & regulatory guidelines. In that case, there is no flexibility. If you do a mistake there, there will be no mercy. You could even lost your job as it deals with the health even life of the general people in some cases.

Medical Coding For Dummies

Medical coder’s job is to give a unique code to the services provided in the physician’s chamber, clinics and hospitals. This code separates that particular diagnosis for that particular patient from others. This helps the physicians across the country to practice a similar standard of practices. This code also helps other physicians to check his medical history, other complications, adverse reactions, contraindications and so on. And the last but not the least this code helps health insurance companies/ government to facilitate or reimburse bill payment.

Thus, a unique code that verbally holds no meaning but practically making all the healthcare process more transparent, patient compliant and up-to-date. So, these codes are sometimes called dummies. A well-known coding book available in most of the library reminds us the same meaning – Medical Billing & Coding For Dummies.

Perhaps, medical coding for dummies is very important in patient’s point of view. Thus, the role of medical coder is not an easy job. They have to very much ethical and remain strict to laws whatever the situation is. On the other hand, their single mistake could cost a patient million dollars or sometimes may allow maltreatment. That is the basic principles in this profession of coding for dummies. You should learn the coding, medical and insurance laws. You should have the basic knowledge of pathology, surgery and anatomy.

Now, coding law ICD-9 in act. From October, 2014 ICD-10 will be on action. A skilled medical coder must remain well conversant with all these updated coding rules and guidelines. He must know earlier than any other profession in health care industry that what changes are like to occur when ICD-10 will be on act?

Medical Coding For DummiesPhysicians in the near future will rely more on medical coder who codes for dummies. As the Genetic engineering, genomics, proteomics, systemic biology is changing the whole healthcare industry, individual patient care will also likely to change in near future when there will be individualized treatment. Then, the dummy coding personnel, commonly known as medical coder will create and store data based on individual DNA pattern. Doctors will easily find out which genes are malfunctioning, which genes have stopped functioning, which genes remain expressive and which genes remain dormant. These processes will be very much helpful in identifying and treating deadly chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, neuron disorder, hemophilia etc.

So, medical coders have to prepare for the future. Their skills and expertise could give the society great value if they could give those genetic data correctly and specifically. Even, nowadays, their job has become an inseparable part in modern healthcare industry. Where ever you go from a physician’s chamber to hospital setting, diagnostic center to medical outsourcing companies, you will find a medical coder storing data and facilitating bill payment or reimbursement using dummy codes. After all, they are doing these dummy coding jobs for the betterment of the common people so that they enjoy the right treatment and pay the right amount of bill.

Medical Billing And Coding Jobs

There are lots of medical billing and coding jobs on the marketplace. If you are competent and knowledgeable you are likely to get one easily. Lots of medical coding and billing jobs are posted in daily newspaper or job searching websites everyday in United States. Job sites, as for example Indeed.com, Glass door. Com, Monster jobs. Com etc. posts many medical coding and billing jobs everyday given by many big hospitals, clinics, physicians, coding companies etc.  Many healthcare agencies and hospitals are recruiting medical coders from campus job fairs.

However, finding a good job at a suitable location is never easy whatever the profession is.  From student life every medical coder should know what certifications they have to get? What basic knowledge they have to learn? What codes, laws and regulations they have to know? What other practical knowledge they need to know? There should a clear carrier planning what is best possible job for a skilled medical coder and how one could get one? If you have a good carrier plan at the beginning of your medical coding schooling, you will definitely focus key thing differently. First of all, basic knowledge of anatomy, physiology, pathology, microbiology, medicine, surgery, dentistry, medical laws, insurance policies etc. should be given priority in learning. That will help them when they will be engaged in medical coding or billing jobs with other health care professionals in the future. But, make no mistake, medical coding guidelines using computer must be given the top most priority. That is why ICD-9 is so vital to know.

Medical Billing And Coding JobsThis coding guideline gets updated time to time. Then, you, as medical coding or medical billing professional, should know the latest coding guidelines on practice. After completing your associate or certificate degree, you should sit for a certification exam like CPC (AAPC) or CHIMA (AHIMA).  These professional certifications are highly valued throughout the country. American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC) is the professional body of medical coding and billing professionals in the United States. So, it is always better to get their membership as early as possible. These will help new medical coders find coding or billing jobs through networking. Their membership will also help you to get updated training and guidelines from some of best medical coding professionals in the country. If you could do these steps correctly then, you are likely to get a medical coding or billing job with a handsome salary. At the beginning of the carrier, although the salary is low, it is likely to increase fast if you the basics have certification and on-hand internship training. An entry level medical coding or billing professional usually get 2000-2500 $ per month.

That means almost $25,000 per year. An experienced medical coder or billing professional who holds 8-10 year of experience gets $4,000 per month. That mean almost $50,000 per year. Comparing with other health care professionals like physicians, pharmacists or nurses, medical coders gets low salary. But when calculated with the years spend on academia or internship, even the effort to get the degree, or the tuition fees requirement with other healthcare degrees, return on investment is big in this profession.

Medical Coding Specialist Salary

Medical coding specialist creates and overviews all actions related to medical center or hospital or inpatient and outpatient coding or medical billing or rehabilitation and nursing coding. They maintains a close relationship with Revenue Integrity and the Hospital Operations department to support coding correctness that is reliable with industry standards and in compliance with the standard Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, as well as coordination with medical documentation specialists to guarantee maximum reimbursement. This person plays major role for implementation of on-site and far-off coding staffs and other support programs.

Medical Coding Specialist SalaryMedical coding specialist will be responsible for developing or maintaining a customs of service, financial discipline and monetary responsibility, compliance, morals and integrity. Thus they maintain information and assure departmental compliance with given set of principles, policies and procedures, appropriate regulatory requirements and authorization standards. This duty is expressed throughout monitoring, audits, reporting of results and instructions to the suitable parties. This person also oversees the reporting of future audit presentations in combination with coding and performance plan. This would comprise reporting on denial management and reimbursements.

This vital position has entrance to proprietary information and has contact with third party organizations in which he mandates high standards of communication, performance, professionalism and respect for confidentiality. That’s why a medical coding specialist deserves a handsome salary. Nowadays, the average salary of a medical coding specialist is $46,847 (compared to previous year’s $47,870). The salary survey conducted by in 2013 by AAPC also shows that the average salary increases up to $48,925 for those specialists who have gained more than two years of experience in healthcare industry. Further experienced personnel enjoy more salary than the little experienced guys.

Medical coding specialist who have gained more than 15 years of experience earning an average salary of $56,667 annually. Another interesting thing that this survey indicates 1st 20 year’s salary increases rapidly but after that it growth level declines slowly. It is also a clear message that more credential and certification will bring you more money in this profession. When we see separately, specialized credential holder makes more money than usual one. According to this year’s data, medical coding specialists who hold any of AAPC’s specialty credentials earn an average yearly salary of $53,489.When we analyze salary by region, the average salaries in different region varies. The Southeast Central states (Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee) are the only 4 states this year to see an augment in the average salary, by about 3 percent.

Day by day, the healthcare workplace is developing. In last couple of years, we experienced a slow decline in the quantity of labor intensive professionals working at healthcare industry. While the healthcare work environment may be changing, the average salaries in those healthcare organizations are amazingly close to expectation. When comparing the average salaries of medical coding specialist working in hospitals of different localities, there is just about a $6,500 difference and small group practices on the decline, ended at $42,202 and healthcare systems on the higher end at $48,789.

Medical Coder Salary

After graduating from the academia every medical coder looks for a medical billing job in the medical centers or hospitals around the locality. Most of the jobs offer $12-$13 an hour, some with added benefits, and some without. When you will attend medical coding program, people usually say this program will earn you $18 to $20 an hour as a starting salary mainly when you are certified, which you will later realize it is not the case. In reality, experience is the key to getting higher salary than the certification.

Medical Coder SalaryAAPC Healthcare Salary Survey 2013 clearly reflects an ever increasing job market for skilled coders, billers, medical auditors, and medical educators. This year’s salary survey showed that unemployment of medical coder has drastically declined to half. For example, those coding personnel who have a Certified Professional Coder credential enjoy unemployment below 2 percent, comparing to the US average unemployment of 7.4 percent.

This increase in employment across the country means a number of the 15,000 members who answered to our survey were only lately hired and are at, or near, initial salary levels. As a result, the survey tells a slight decline in the overall average salary: $46,847 (compared to previous year’s $47,870). The survey also explains, however, that the average salary jumps up to $48,925 for coders who have more than 2 years of professional experience in their field. In other words, the average salary continues to mount steadily for professionals who have been in the healthcare industry for a few years. As experience increases, so does the average salary, with coders who have more than 15 years of experience making an average of $56,667 annually. It’s very interesting, however, to note that the most significant salary increases happen in the first 20 years of experience. Beyond that, the increases are insignificant at best, with a little lesser than a 5 percent salary boost for every five years of practice.

There is also a saying in the medical coding industry: More Credentials and Education = More Money. This increase in employment across the country means a number of the 15,000 members who answered the survey

When separated by credential, the salary averages carry on illustrating that those having more focused credentials are likely to earn more money. For instance, according to this year’s data, those possess any of AAPC’s special medical credential can earn an average annual salary of $53,489. All specialized medical coder salary is given below:

  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC) earns an average salary of $48,593 annually.
  • Certified Professional Coder – Hospital Outpatient (CPC-H) earns an average salary of $56,284 annually.
  • Certified Professional Coder – Payer (CPC-P) earns an average salary of $57,995 annually.
  • Certified Professional Practice Manager (CPPM) earns an average salary of $59,619 annually.
  • Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA) earns an average salary of $61,115 annually.
  • Certified Professional Biller (CPB) earns an average salary of $61,667 annually.
  • Certified Professional Compliance Officer (CPCO) earns an average salary of $69,138 annually.

AAPC members continue to be considered as well knowledgeable group of medical coders. Of course, those with good professional experience and an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree earns much better average salary than others without.

Entry Level Medical Coding Jobs

After finishing education on medical coding from academia, you are eligible for entry level medical coding jobs. Entry level medical coding jobs usually require a 2 year associate degree or a 1 year certificate degree. They are usually easy to find as the number of medical coding or medical billing jobs are on the rise. If you have an AAPC or AHIMA certification, your chance of getting an entry level job is many times higher than non certified medical coding personnel.

Online job websites regularly posts entry level medical coding jobs. You could apply online through this websites or you could send hardcopy of your job application with a cover letter to headquarters of different medical coding companies through courier. Humana, Lexicode, Kaplan, Boston Health center, New York Hospital are some of the medical coder recruiting companies.

Entry Level Medical Coding JobsAt present, more than 125,000 medical coding professionals are members of AAPC. This professional association gives a various types of opportunities to raise the standards of medical coding by developing education, professional certification, scope of networking with other related healthcare professionals and a array of job search database and career building opportunities. If you are an entry level medical coder, our advice is that you should learn more about AAPC and grab benefit of the workshops, on-demand webinars, local and national conferences. AAPC also publishes a monthly magazine named Cutting Edge to develop coding skills and stand out in your field from other coding professionals. As a part of AAPC you will also be capable to meet many coding professionals by attending in the coding conversation forums, Facebook coding group, or one of more than 550 regional chapters all over the United States and nearby areas. AAPC members also benefit from huge savings on medical coding or billing books plus a variety of other members-only special discounts. If you are worried about what you have studied so far about AAPC and opportunities pursuing medical coding, medical auditing, medical practice management, compliance or one of the additional specialized credentials you can begin your new career by joining AAPC.

Adding to that, some health centers or big hospitals occasionally look for medical coding associate or trainee medical coder or trainee medical biller. These entry level jobs will not give you a handsome salary but a good healthcare coding experience which you could perfectly capitalize in the future. However, today many jobs also have common characteristics with medical billing jobs. Medical billers are habitually the central link between healthcare providers, insurance companies and patients. You can search jobs in roughly any healthcare setting, but the most universal employers are physicians’ offices, diagnostic centers and hospitals. Students can work part time in non-specialty roles that are intimately related to jobs with the purpose of gaining an overview of how healthcare systems function. You can also improve your chances of victory on the job market and perhaps find a higher salary if you are well-known with the newest versions of the medical coding system. In a nutshell, once you have ended up with a job, your salary will be based upon your employer, level of certification and the experience you have gained in similar settings.