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Medical coding jobs – What is a Medical Coder and how to become one
If you have visited the hospital or had a recent diagnosis, you have encountered medical coding, whether you realized it or not. It is a medical field that affects the physicians, doctors, patients, and all their future decisions in treatment.
This article is going to cover everything you need to know about medical coding to get started in your career or studies.
Medical coding uses the universal medical alphanumeric codes for medical procedures, diagnosis, equipment, and healthcare services. The medical coder professionals will cross-reference a medical term into a numeric or alphanumeric code of three, four, or five digits.
To translate the diagnosis and medical records into medical codes, medical coders need to have the knowledge of anatomy and medical terminology to accurately describe the patients’ symptoms for the medical billing process. An accurate medical code of a record will inform the payers about:
- The diagnosis of the patient
- The treatments and services provided to the patient
- Any medical conditions that affected the medical procedure of the patient
The job of a medical coder entails summarizing the entire medical record and diagnosis of a patient into medical codes. A medical coder will read through the patient’s records and a document describing the medical treatment and services provided to them by the healthcare provider and ascribe standard codes according to the classification systems: CPT, HCPS Level II, and ICD-10-CM.
With the understanding of the medical terms mentioned in the medical record, the medical coder will go through their CPT and ICD-10 code books to translate the diagnosis into accurate medical codes. Apart from the doctor’s transcript of the patient, the coder might also have to request image studies and laboratory tests to fully understand and verify the process before assigning the codes.
A lot of the cases are simple to code and only take a couple of minutes. However, coders will also encounter frequent difficult and detailed cases that will require in-depth research and more time to code. On the other hand, there are some confusing and complex cases that are difficult to decipher through the coding guidelines. In such cases, the coder professionals may rely on their network of professionals and colleagues and consult with acquainted specialists.
Medical coders spend quite some time in front of a computer, analyzing charts and records, researching and entering the coded data into the billing system.
Documentation of medical records and history is the backbone of the healthcare revenue system. A patient’s medical history is going to determine what kind of treatment will be the most appropriate for them, and likewise, their treatment and diagnosis are documented for better treatment in the future.
During the 18th century, in London, the public bills of mortality termed medical coding as it helped determine the cause of the cholera epidemic. So while the main purpose of medical coding is billing, the coded data can also be useful to manage risks and assist in public healthcare.
Healthcare providers perform thousands of services and treatments that are hard to track accurately. Just written reports of their medical procedures aren’t going to be helpful, especially in the long run. In that sense, medical coding summarizes the symptoms, disease, treatment, and supplies provided, all in a few digits code, making it easier to track, understand and modify if needed.
Professional medical coders need to understand not only anatomy, medical procedures and terminology, and physiology, but also insurance, government, and federal-state guides, payer policies, rules, etc.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have a background in the medical field to become a professional medical coder. Someone with no medical knowledge or education in medical coding can take training programs for coding. These training programs can be found both offline and online.
Depending on which revenue cycle area you want to pursue, you can get different certifications. The most sought certificate is CPC (Certified Professional Coder), which is for outpatient services. CIC (Certified Inpatient Coding) is for facility coders for inpatient services, and for patients receiving in-and-out services in the hospital, COC (Certified Outpatient Coder) certificate is approved.
While the work of a medical coder is mostly independent, associating with your coding staff, ancillary office staff, physicians, and medical billers is necessary. Medical coders need to maintain a tight schedule and finish a certain number of notes daily.
A medical coder makes an average monthly income between $3,000 and $6,000. For certified and non-certified coders, the annual income can lead to an average of $54,797. If you have more than one credential, your salary can rise above $60k, and with three credentials, a professional medical coder can earn up to $69,942 annually.
Among the wide range of certifications for medical coding, CPCO (Certified Professional Compliance Officer) earns the most or above $80k annually, followed by CPC-I (Certified Professional Coder-Instructor) and CDEO (Certified Documentation Expert-Outpatient).
You can apply for a job as a medical coder right here on Jobbinghood or through other job-hunting websites, career marketplaces, or healthcare companies.
Job hunting sites are a good place to start if you want to explore your options, but it requires you to have a strong resume to begin with. In that case, you can find an internship job to get experience on such job sites.
On the flip side, if you are an employer, career marketplaces are the place for you and the job hunters. It’s an efficient way to get employed and recruit employers in any field, including medical coding.
As medical coders are in demand, there are a lot of healthcare companies and facilities recruiting and hiring, both for office and remote work options.
For the work environment and position, a medical coder can work from a billing office, surgical center, hospital, insurance office, emergency department, nursing care, physician’s office, ambulance service, home office, and more.
We hope this article helped you understand the world of a medical coder. Among high-paying remote jobs, it is definitely a desirable option, given you are willing to take all the responsibility. If you are searching for a place to start your career as a professional medical coder, consider jobinghood and its wide range of services and promising job positions.