Medical coding—also known as medical records, health information technicians, classification—is a healthcare profession that is concerned with the proper keeping and classification of records. Coding takes doctor and physician’s notes, tests, and laboratory results and applies a coding system that allows the information to be readily accessed and analyzed. It’s an integral part to understanding different diseases and ailments through a statistical and analytic lens. The other duties encompassed in the position include reporting services to insurers for proper reimbursement and helping various administrative functions. So while this job takes place in a medical setting, you won’t typically have to interact with patients. It’s a great way for those who may not want extensive patient interaction to work in a field that is typically known for their competitive wages overall.
Medical coding is a positive employment choice for many. Employment of these positions is supposed to increase by 22 percent from 2012 to 2022. Additionally, the demand for health services is expected to increase substantially as the “Baby Boomer” generation ages and the need for digitization of documents increases over the coming years. While job numbers are expected to grow, prospects are best for those with a certification in health information.
Salary Guide for Medical Coding
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of medical coding technicians was $34,160 in May 2012. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,250, and the top 10 percent earned more than $56,200.
The following are median annual wages breakdowns for May 2012:
- Health Technologists and Technicians: $40,380
- Total, All Occupations: $34,750
- Medical Records and Health Information Technicians: $34,160
Career Outlook for Medical Coding
In 2012 medical coding technicians held 186,300 of all the jobs in the United States. That number is projected to be higher at 227,400 of all jobs for 2022. A majority of these positions are found in hospitals at about 37 percent, so you can be sure to become fully integrated into a hospital community lush with other medical professionals.
In addition to hospitals, other healthcare facilities employ medical coding technicians, such as:
- Doctor’s offices
- Nursing care facilities
- Outpatient care centers
- Federal government agencies
Most medical coding technicians work full time. Occasionally weekend and evening shifts are also required, especially when medical facilities are open 24 hours a day. The benefit for medical coding positions though is that since you’re not directly dealing with patients, there isn’t a large inherent need to have you on hand outside of regular business hours. This keeps a more consistent schedule to the position and is a great way to build routine.
As mentioned, due to the aging population of the U.S., more medical tests, treatments, and procedures will be required. This means we will need more medical coding technicians on support staff. It also means more claims for reimbursement from private and public insurance. It’s a process that may see a strain on resources temporarily as the workforce expands and tries to keep up with demand for resources. Nonetheless, jobs will be available and there will be large amounts of work to be done.
Cancer registrars are also expected to continue to be in high demand, particularly as the prevalence of cancer continues to see an uptick in the frequency of cases. Special purpose registers will be in need because many more types of illnesses are detected and treated later in life. These positions typically pay more, as do jobs in specialized facilities such as cancer treatment centers and similar places around the country, so stay diligent when applying for positions and it could be easier than you think to secure a better paying job with more lucrative benefits. It’s more than evident that careers in medical coding can provide great benefits, salary, availability, and growth in a position in the long-term, so what’s keeping you from getting started today?