A medical coder is the data recorder and analyzer in the healthcare industry. He sets a typical alphanumerical code for each services exchanged between the patient and the healthcare service provider with a given set of standard guidelines. These codes will be used for recording of medical data and different heath care services which will be very useful in future, because a typical patient present and past pathological history can be easily found through this code only by means of a click. Those data’s will be used for billing and reimbursement purposes too. Moreover, this typical patient centric code brings a general uniformity among different physicians practicing different parts of the country.
Now, the question is how to become a professional medical coder in this competitive and fast changing healthcare industry? The answer of this question give rise to a lot of questions such as what education will be right for me? What certification to get? Where to get an internship? Where to find coding jobs? In United States, It is generally required to have a 1 year certificate course or 2 year Associate degree for starting a professional in the medical field. 2 year associate degree over has a unique advantage over 1 year certificate course. You can do further study and opt for a Bachelor degree in Healthcare Administration (BHA). If you don’t want to study more, you can go for a certificate course. But, associate & bachelor degree holders are generally considered more knowledgeable than certificate degree holders. After finishing your academia it is always better to get a professional certification. CPC or CPB certification is offered by AAPC. They are highly valued by employers throughout the country.
AAPC has currently almost 125000 members. You can also become one through registration. That will help you to use their resources, networking and other preparations essential for a bright carrier as a medical coder. American Health Information Management Association is also a recognized organization that gives profession certification to medical coders. You can have their too. Nowadays, medical coding certification has become more personalized. For example, you can opt for CPC-H; if you are determine to work in a hospital setting. But one thing you have to make sure that you understood the basic knowledge of anatomy, physiology, microbiology, pathology, gynecology, medicine, surgery, pediatrics, cardiology, Gastroenterology, hospital management etc. Side by side you have to know and understand each of the medical rules and regulations used in the hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
You also have to thoroughly understand the ICD codes used in the current medical coding practices because these codes you are going to apply in your day to day activities. From October, 2014 there will be new version of ICD code available named ICD-10. Then, internship comes as your next step to become a medical coder. Many coder recruiting agencies or hospitals used to recruit intern coders from college campuses. So, don’t miss those events. Try to learn on the job activities practically from a senior coder during internship. Finally, try to learn new things time to time even when you are working as a professional coder. That is the basic way you can become a successful medical coder.