Medical coders are specialists in the medical industry. They work behind the scenes to make sure that a patient’s procedures and diagnoses are logged correctly. The contributions and concepts of medical coding have existed for decades, and both accuracy and privacy become increasingly important as the digitization of records becomes the standard. Increased use of electronic health records – which allow for synchronized and accessible health records across doctors and even states for the same patient – as well as aging patients who continue to see doctors and specialists increases the need for medical coders to handle the recording, analysis, and organization of doctor and patient information. Their role is one of translating and classifying, keeping records right.
What Do Medical Coders Do?
Ultimately, medical coders are the force behind all organization and data in patient records. Their knowledge of terminology, disease, and medicine helps put an organized face on patient charts, billing, insurance information and all records. Their translation of doctor’s notes to a common medical code helps track doctor and hospital operations, patient diagnoses, prescriptions, and gives later doctor’s the information they need in treating the same patient. It also helps insurance providers, Medicare, and Medicaid with payment and reimbursements.
Where Do Medical Coders Work?
Most medical coders work in hospitals or clinics. But they can also work for:
- Physical offices
- Private practices
- Surgery centers
- Nursing homes
- Dental offices
- Mental health offices
- Insurance companies
- Consulting firms
- Public health organizations
- Government offices
Also, there are many small practices or one-doctor practices that outsource their billing, medical coders work at independent coding offices where they service the coding and billing for multiple offices and specialties.
An average salary for medical coding is over $34,000 a year, with huge potential for growth, including supervisory and director positions. The growth of this sector of healthcare is expected to grow over 22% in less than ten years. With additional changes to insurances through new federal laws, there is also the likelihood for not only new jobs, but also job security.
How Can I Find a Job?
The most important part of getting job in medical coding is making sure that you’re properly certified or educated in terminology and healthcare. While there are formal degree programs that can train someone in medical coding, there are several health management and professional health organizations that offer training and certification online. Courses will generally include subjects such as anatomy and physiology, health data requirements and standards, classification, healthcare reimbursement methods, and computer systems. There are also some government programs that work with people in medical coding and terminology training and certificate programs. A medical coder can acquire specialty certification as a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT), a Certified Tumor Registrar (CTR), and more.
Without a formal certificate or license, a background in science, biology, or health sciences makes you a more desirable candidate. Additionally, having previous medical or technical experience is an advantage. Medical coders also need to be detail-oriented and have strong analytical and decision making skills.
Jobs are often posted on hospital websites or healthcare job boards. Insurance companies may host job postings, and as medical coders can also work for public health or government health organizations, jobs can be found through county and state health organization websites. Finally, if you have achieved certification or licensure through a healthcare organization, be sure to utilize their network for possible job connections.
Medical coders are experts in patient records and healthcare information. Their understanding and comprehension of medical codes ensure quality and accuracy in patient healthcare. They are also crucial to medical bills being paid, helping the business of healthcare move forward. While they are not on the front lines of medicine, their part in the industry of health is key to maintaining health. Their partnership with doctors, hospitals, and patients is crucial for good health and good care.