Medical Coding Internship

One needs to take a good deal of education and training prior to become a skilled medical coder. At first, coders must have a good basic knowledge of anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and other medical terminologies. It is also vital to become familiar with various types of insurance plans, regulations, policies, compliance and the coding community’s three well recognized coding books: CPT®, HCPCS Level II and ICD-9-CM.In addition to conveying ICD-9, CPT®, and HCPCs codes, nowadays medical coder is involved in a wide range of coding-related activities. The coder may audit the appeals of denied claims. The coder can also instruct providers and recommend the proper application of federal mandates and compliance that require healthcare providers to use standard coding and billing standards through chart audits.

After finishing education, one needs to get into an internship where he/she can learn the above things hand-in-hand. and often posts those types of internship program in their website.  A typical medical coder internship program includes following attributes:

  • Working as part of a hospital that is based on top class patient care.
  • Strong orientation and mentoring for intern employees.
  • Flexible working hours: most employees work from home. Intern employees are also given a freedom to set a schedule that works better for them.
  • Competitive pay package in the industry.

And in choosing intern employees prefer their grades and subject knowledge.  During this internship period, students will gather skills and practical knowledge on following things:

  • They will receive training on ICD-10 codes
  • They will be able to practice coding from home on case studies provided by the hospital.
  • They need to be on-site at the hospital premise for instruction at least once a week.

Medical Coding InternshipSuch kind of Paid internships can be done full time (40 hours/week) from 2 weeks-3 months or part-time (20 hours/week) for about 4 weeks-6 months.  Although, internship time could vary from hospital to hospital, basic things to learn and basic works to perform always are the same.

Big hospital tends to take 10-12 interns in each semester whereas small clinic or diagnostic centers usually take 1-2 coders as intern employee.

However, In order to be eligible for these opportunities, applicants must:

Hold a academic credential from accredited college or have successfully  completed the core coursework of a medical coding program including Biochemistry, Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Terminology, and courses in ICD-9 and CPT codes;

  • Have a strong GPA in their academic coding courses;
  • Hold strong attention to detail and accuracy skills;
  • Be on-site at the recruiting hospital premises before winter, fall or summer training session;
  • Have fast and reliable internet access at home to work remotely;
  • Have a very robust interest in working at this hospital upon completion of your internship program; and
  • If finally hired as a medical coder role, be able to work full time (40 hours) for at least two years from date of hire.

Medical Billing And Coding From Home

One great advantage of medical coding and billing jobs is that they can be done from home. Many professional coders are working from home nowadays, and through that they are earning an average of $13-$18 per hour. So, apart from your educational credentials and certification, you must have some physical things like fast working PC and fast and reliable internet connection. Some hospitals require coders to be on hospital premises at least once per week. Again, some clinics and health related data agencies require coders to present in their main premises 2-3 times every week. But working from home remains the principal mode of working pattern for the medical coding and billing professionals everywhere, from Los Angeles to New York and from Miami to Seattle. Some may find it very interesting that someone is working in an organization but coming in the office 1-2 times per week.

Medical Billing And Coding From HomeActually all billing and coding jobs require you to input data and record those in unique manger so that one could have that data within seconds in any time in the future. Working location does not matter. You are sitting and working seriously in office or enjoying mp3 songs in home or enjoying vacation in countryside sandy beaches. The thing that that matter most here is data entry and data encryption using set of guidelines. Yes. That is true. The standard of guidelines, medical rules and regulations remains the same everywhere. You cannot deny or neglect that. Even, their most recent version are required to be used in any dealings or billing processes. ICD-9 is being used now commonly throughout US as the principal set of guidelines for the medical billing and coding process. It clearly explains how you have to use patient information, how you will reimburse bill claims, how you will keep patient records etc. No professional coder can neglect this set of rules. They should be followed until its next version is announced. ICD-10 will be launched in June, 2014. From them on every medical coding and billing professional will be using ICD-10 for every professional purpose.

However, working online from home offers big opportunities to many. Those people who are nostalgic can stay at home with their parents or own family most of the time. Again, home environment keep your mind calm and cool so that extra stress and depression never likely to touch you. Again, you could celebrate anniversaries, enjoy special days and occasions delightfully with near and dear ones which many professionals fail to do. Apart from this merits, home working offers you some demerits too. It can set you apart from coworkers and other official stakeholders. If you are not strong at communication skill you might find it very difficult to overcome this. Adding to that, you will miss the luxuries of team meeting, foreign trip, group working or team-building environment that sales, marketing and other administrative professionals enjoys time to time. But one thing remains the same always there will be deadline and you have to meet that.

Medical Coder Job Description

As the healthcare industry is growing day by day, this sector needs more coding personnel to facilitate its services and processes more smoothly in accordance with the norms and regulations.

Medical Coder Job DescriptionNowadays, patient accounts are maintained in computers, which has made the accounts and finance department in doctor’s chambers and hospitals more efficient and up to date. 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 and select necessary information he/she wants. From that perspective, medical coders roles and responsibilities have got a definite shape and their need in the healthcare industry is beyond question or unavoidable.

That is why in the regular job circular, many recruiting agencies or hospitals often set following attributes in medical coder job description:

  • Capable of allocating and review right and unique medical codes to various diagnoses, treatment, bill denials and reimbursements.
  • Skilled in wide array of services: anesthesiology to radiology, surgical services to laboratory diagnostics, microbiology to insurance etc.
  • Sound knowledge on keeping records, medical rules and regulations, bill payments and reimbursements, compliance and insurance laws.
  • Must have strong communication skill so that he/ she could smartly communicate with other health care professionals and visiting patients (when necessary).
  • Have good basic knowledge on subject matters: anatomy, physiology, microbiology and other medical terminologies necessary to properly code provider diagnosis and other patient focused services.
  • Capable of working from home or far-away places.
  • Flexible work hours so that occasionally he/she must have the capacity to take the higher workload.
  • Having good managerial and documentation skill
  • Not interested in routine work or desk-based job don’t need to apply.
  • Capable of working 40-42 hours every week.

Whereas three fundamental criteria remains the initial 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.

Professionals who have graduated from Govt. certified colleges and holding a AAPC or AIHMA certification are usually capable of fulfilling the requirements mentioned in the job description. So, it is always better to get the certification before you enter the job market. AAPC also offers a membership for graduated medical coders and billing professionals. And when you will become a member of AAPC, you can use their vast knowledge resources and training facilities to enrich you capabilities as a skilled medical coder. You can also use their huge networking opportunities. AAPC currently has 127000 registered members around US. This will be very much helpful for your career in the future. However, in case of certification, you can choose Certified Professional Coder (CPC) or Certified Professional Biller (CPB) exam route. Both routes have good opportunities in career. You can focus more in your certification exam, for example if you are determined to work in a hospital setting goes for CPC-H. Such types of certification are on the rise. In a nutshell, these certifications and other services alongside your academic degree helps you to meet the attributes set in the job description by the hospitals or other coder recruiting agencies.

What Do Medical Coders Do?

Medical coders do various coding related tasks in the healthcare industry. Their jobs can be mainly divided into three divisions, such as: Hospital/in patient coding, Billing/ payment coding and coding for medical auditing.

Medical coders will hold all your in-patient and out-patient coding needs. They will record doctor’s notes, diagnosis, tests, billing information, and more related services, to ensure your system is just accurate for the next time when this patient will visit any physician and the entire patient’s malaise related information’s are readily and easily accessible. These are the mainstream jobs of the medical coders. A majority of coders, who are working in different organizations, mostly are doing in-patient or out-patient medical coding for any clinic, hospital or physician’s offices.

What Do Medical Coders DoAnother mainstream function of medical coding professionals is auditing.  Although relatively new, but this profession has evolved a lot in last couple of years. A medical auditing coder is the professional who transcribes the findings of the auditing reports in any healthcare settings and record those giving different alpha numerical codes. They record these auditing reports as such these will be accessible easily in the future for any comparison or clarification. An auditing department is a nice place to start your career in a medical coding company or sometimes in a healthcare company. This can also be used as an experiment service to ensure customers enjoy proper services with the organization and the proper functioning of the team to some extent. An audit involves inspection of your current medical coding and billing process and records for any malpractices, inconsistencies, malfunctioning, inaccuracies, and out-of-date coding and then updating and fixing everything.

Third and final division of mainstream segmentation of job function for coding personnel is medical billing. Many medical coders are engaged in medical billing function of different healthcare institutions, like clinics, hospitals, diagnostic centers, physician’s offices and so on. Many medical billing jobs are posted everyday in job searching websites, such as, monster, Glass etc. Thus, a medical coding company maintains a billing team of coding professionals familiar with all the insurance requirements for medical coding to enable your office pay correctly and of course, on time. Medical billing professionals must have to know the insurance policies that apply to bill reimbursements side by side all the regular medical coding guidelines, so that if a patient claims his/ her medical bill should be reimbursed then as a professional he/ she should use all the policies and guidelines to solve the issue that the patients claim whether inappropriate or not. In this role, a bill professional should also have moral and ethical standard to meet the demand of the society, as the common peoples don’t know the rules, they just expect that the medical biller will do the right for him.

However, beside these mainstream professions of medical coding, many medical coders are working in various job functions, such as, some are working in- house, some are working from home online, some are contractual, some are permanent. But, whatever their job functions are, their core job remains the same, coding for the betterment of healthcare services for the society.

Medical Coders

Medical coders are an inseparable part of the present healthcare industry. They compile and store patient related medical data in every healthcare institutions. They jobs are greatly benefiting our common people in every healthcare settings, whether that is a physician’s office or a big state hospital. Medical coders are getting more eminent in the society as they are the professional people who help to maintain a common standard of medical practice across the country.

According to AAPC, there are approximately 125,000 medical coders registered as one of their members. Some are registered under the umbrella of AHIMA. So, the actual number of both registered and non-registered medical coders could cross 200,000. Again, many young students are studying medical coding who are supposed to enter into the medical coding job market by 2014 or 2015.Medical Coders

Medical coders learn many things in short but not in details during their student life. They have to learn the basics of anatomy, physiology, pathology, gynecology, medicine, surgery, dentistry, critical care etc. It is not the same in case of other healthcare professionals, for example, doctors, pharmacists, nurses etc. They have to go through details of some typical topic during 5-8 years including an internship 1-3 years. But medical coder course curriculum does not require deep detailed study some typical subjects for a longer period of time, rather they have to go through a lot of health related subjects within 1-2 years time. If any medical coding student wishes to pursue a certificate degree, then one year is enough for him to earn the degree unless he passes at one chance. But, if the student wishes to pursue an associate degree, he/she have to spend 2 years in a certified coding college. 2 year medical coding associate degrees have a benefit over the 1 year associate degree. That is if one continue to do further study then after achieving 2 year associate degree, he/she could get directly admitted into a BHA (Bachelor of Healthcare Administration) degree. But in job market, whether you are a certificate degree holder or an associate degree holder, you have to get professional certification from AAPC or AHIMA.

Their professional certification status is highly valued by employers (hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers, medical coding agencies etc.). Although in house medical coders were the beginners in this coding field, nowadays many professional medical coders are working from home online. Yes, it will be very interesting to know that online medical coding from remote places have become very common at present. Even many hospitals and clinics are now declaring that their medical coders are not required to come to their premises 5 days every week. 1-2 days reporting at the office is enough unless he/she able to deliver his/her task appropriately on time. So, every medical coder is enjoying this advantage. However, they are enjoying the same salary. The average salary of an entry level medical coder is $20,000-25,000 annually. Perhaps, they will enjoy higher salary when they will hold more work experience. The average salary of an experienced medical coder is $40,000-45,000 annually. After 10-15 years, they are expected to earn more.

What Does A Medical Coder Do?

A medical coder is the expert coding professional who collects and records all the medical information in a healthcare facility. His/her day to day job involves compiling all the clinical information related to patients and store them giving a typical alphanumerical code. Without this contribution to medical sector by medical coders, modern healthcare industry may not reach this stage as it is today.

A medical coder does not need to come in this office every day. Most of the offices require that their medical coder have to come in their premises at least once or twice a week. This has become common practice in United States as every professional medical coder can easily do their job from home or any remote settings. Using this typical feature of this coding profession, some healthcare/medical service companies are outsourcing medical coders from India, China or Philippines at a much lower cost than the United States.

What Does A Medical Coder DoNow, the question comes what a medical coder typically does? What has made them so important is this ever changing medical industry? It is very interesting to know that they work also patient to patient basis. When a patient comes to a physician office or outdoor medical facility of a hospital, medical coder collect his/ her medical history and give it to patient. After the consultation, he compiles and records all the services provided to that patient in that visit, e.g. tests, medications, assessments, recommendations, exercises etc. Although, if the treatment fails or any side effects or contraindication was found later, the medical coder will give those inputs in the system later. In the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), medical coder give data inputs regarding patients treatments time to time as to keep pace with the changing services provided to that patient.

However, every medical coder or medical billing professional should always bear in mind that their little mistake could hurt a patient economically or sometimes even medically. In a recent study, it was found that there was almost 18,000,000 medical coding or billing errors last year. These errors must be overcome in order to raise the standard of medical practice in the country. So, a medical coder must maintain a high standard of ethical behavior beside a strong professional attitude. Every patient depend on the report he/ she gets from the medical coder from that medical institution. Although, physicians give the treatment, counseling and necessary medication to the patient, but the final report the patient gets for billing or to be used for future clinical purposes for that particular patient, is prepared by a medical coder.

Medical coders can select one of two carrier path in broad aspect, such as pure medical coder working in a physician’s office, hospital or health care settings or medical billing professional working in billing, accounts or finance department of any healthcare organization. But in terms of organization or workplace, they could work in hospitals, clinics, diagnostic centers as well as healthcare recruiting agencies, medical outsourcing agencies etc.

Medical Records Coder

Medical records is the term used in collecting and storing data of a single patient’s medical examination, diagnostic tests, treatments suggested, medical history, chronic complications, adverse reactions and other services provided. These records are mainly electronically and a sample copy can be accessible to patients upon request. The professional coder who does this job is commonly known as a medical records coder.

Medical records have historically been prepared and stored by physicians or health care providers. During last decade whole healthcare industry has changed a lot. One thing caught everyone’s attention is that the introduction of IT facilities in medical institutions. This modern concept is highly encouraged and supported by US health administration, AHIMA, AAPC and other governing bodies. Medical coders do a tremendous job to put all the medical related information under one alpha numerical code which can be easily accessible in future if necessary. In reality, these records help physicians all over the country to make correct treatments aligned with patient’s medical history and present condition.Medical Records Coder

Now, the question comes what a medical records coder does regularly?  Answer of this question varies a little according to medical settings they are presently working. But the basics remain the same. If they are in in-patient care facility they job involves recoding admission records, on-service records, health condition progress records (SOAP records), operative records, preoperative records, postoperative records, process records, delivery records, postpartum records, and discharge records. If the medical coder works in a physician’s office or out-patient facility, then his duty involves compilation and maintenance of health check-up report, diagnostic report, treatment and medication report. In surgery facilities, they prepare medical records consisting of assessment report, diagnostic report, medical history, Preoperative report, post operative report, premedication report, post medication report, hospital clearance report etc. If coders are coding in a maternity clinic or gynecologists chamber, he/ she have to prepare and maintain condition assessment report, test report, pre delivery report, post delivery report, clearance report etc. These records are forwarded to a patient upon request so that where ever he/ she go within the country the standard of medical practice remain the same.

It is also used as a good training material for medical and nursing students. Perhaps, recording and keeping of medical information is not a new issue. It is actually dated back to many centuries ago when our ancestors treat patients through herbs. They used to write it down to stone, leaves, wood etc. Recent advancement of IT facility and high speed computer network has made easy for us to code all the medical information under a single code. Medical records coder follows some rules and guidelines in medical records keeping. As these information’s are highly confidential and personal issues, they should not be disclosed for any forgery action and the corresponding laws should be strictly followed. Thus, these medical records also have become a yardstick of medical practice at present as these codes have given a common standard of medical practice all over the country.

Medical Coding Examples

Rose works as a receptionist at a hospital that houses four family doctors and a physician’s assistant. She manages all the medical billing and coding required in the office, which requires her to coordinate with patients, insurance providers and other professionals in medical careers to bill the proper parties accurately and efficiently.

Rose got training in medical coding, a standard technique of identifying procedures, diagnoses, and the varieties of visits on patient charts. When new legislation got approval, since then required doctor’s offices and hospitals to preserve their patient records electronically.  Rose worked with one of the physicians to select a medical database method that would work best for their office. She welcomed the excuse to computerize all the information because it made getting information about patient visits from her colleagues easier. Now she just needs to give email to the medical assistants and request them to fill in the medical coding fields in the database that they are ready for filling. The doctors in her hospital have established everyday jobs associated with medical billing and coding as a main concern, for it is only when Rose has all the data that she can bill patients and their insurance companies.

Certain procedures that the clinic does on a day to day basis are often not covered by insurance providers, and she knows the ins and outs of the key insurance providers that she often works with in her medical billing and coding processes. If in doubt, she will call a patient’s insurance provider earlier than the time of the visit to make sure a procedure is covered. The clinic works with patients who don’t have insurance until they make usual payments. If they don’t, she will send them to collections, which she sometimes does as a last option.

Medical Coding ExamplesHowever, in association with medical billing and coding, Rose controls all the HIPAA requirements for the medical institution. She makes sure all the hospital’s active patients sign the HIPAA information and revelation form each year. She also expertly manages any requests for patient charts, as there is a unique procedure every patient need to follow – both for providing charts of their patients to other physicians, as well as getting patient charts from other physicians.

Rose earned her associate’s degree as a health care supervisor years ago, but she has maintained her certification that involves passing a test. Sometimes, doctors pay for her so that she could attend the updated certification exam. She received computer training.  For example, when they got their new medical database system installed, and once she got fully trained, she was able to show all her coworkers how to use that software, as well.

Medical coding, like every accounts payable system, is a crucial part of the clinic where she works.  So she effectively and efficiently manages the documentation which is vital for receiving of the funds that fill the payroll and compensate for the other bills. She knows professionals in other medical jobs. She tries to manage a good communication with those personnel so that she could work consistently and accurately. The hospital’s patients also rely on her, when possible; to make sure the processes or services physicians perform are covered by insurance.

Remote Medical Coding Companies

Nowadays, remote coding companies are doing the medical coding jobs for the medical institutions contractual or permanent basis. Coding staffs of these companies are doing the job as a customer service. These types of coding companies usually recruits staff who have 1-3 years of experience, strong knowledge of medical coding, holds a AAPC or AIHMA certification, knows ICD-9, ICD-10 codes, medical coding guidelines and laws, insurance and reimbursement policies. These remote medical coding companies have different divisions or departments through which they operates, such as Ambulatory (SDS), Hospital Inpatient, Observation Stays, Interventional Radiology, Emergency Department, Physician Office, Clinic Coding (Wound, Pain, Infusion etc.), E/M Services etc. A remote medical coding company puts the customer service first and foremost, meeting the demand of both the patients and service providers.  Thus, medical coders become very familiar with the medical practices and its service providers. There are many companies in the market place that are doing remote medical coding. For example, e.g. MCS, HCCS, Maxim Health Information Services, Global Edge, VEEBill, American Medical & Information Services etc.

Healthcare Coding and Consulting Services or HCCS is one of the nation’s leader providers of remote medical coding services to different health care institutions. Employees of HCCS try their best to be special in the coding filed. That makes HCCS a special medical coding destination. Its head office is based in Cape Coral, Florida. They are in operation since 2006. This medical coding powerhouse provides variety of coding services to different healthcare organizations (Clinics, hospitals, companies etc.) throughout the United States. They even provide consulting and coding services to critical hospital centers to high level trauma centers which saves millions for those medical institutions annually.

Remote Medical Coding CompaniesMCS is a also well known medical coding company in the Northeastern part of the United States. It has proven itself by its skills and expertise on medical coding field in this region. It has many expert coding professionals who hold a good experience in this field. Many coders here have more than 10-12 years of professional experience. They also offer hospital on-site, physician chamber coding options. They promote their advertisement that if you need transition to ICD-10 or best class remote coding facility, MCS-Medical Coding Services is the favorite place to call.

Maxim Health Information Systems or MHIS is also renowned remote medical coding company. It provides its clients the best class coding services. Sometimes it’s short-term, sometimes long-term or sometimes permanent medical coding assignments. They are competent to help clients with both the training and consulting services regarding the conversion to ICD-10. Maxim specialty is the way they give coding training across industry: individual, group or departmental training. They use coders that are of top class in skill: either AAPC or AHIMA certified and have at least 3-5 years coding experience.  MIHS offers the on-site and remote medical coding services as well as billing, record keeping, monitoring and auditing services. Maxim also has expertise in Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center coding services. That sets Maxim apart from other medical coding companies. If you any professional training on medical coding or coding services for your medical institution, Maxim is there to help you best the best of class quality services.

How To Become A Medical Coder?

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.

how to become a medical coderNow, 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.