What is Medical Coding?
Medical coding is the process of taking a patient’s health care information like medical procedures, diagnosis, necessary medical equipment, and medical services information from the physician's notes. A medical coder transforms this information into universal medical alphanumeric codes.
There are three types of universally known medical alphanumeric codes:
- Intrnational Classification of Diseases (ICD): The World Health Organization (WHO) created this internationally used code. The classification system is largely used for the purpose of health recording and data collection, among other uses. These codes can classify symptoms, diseases, illnesses, and causes of death.
- Current Procedural Terminology (CPT): CPT codes identify medical, surgical, and diagnostic procedures and services within the US. The American Medical Association (AMA) developed this system, which includes three categories: procedures and contemporary medical practices, clinical labs, and emerging technologies.
- Healthcare Common Procedure Coding (HCPCS): The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) developed this coding system to help with processing insurance claims for Medicare or other providers. Coders use them to note medical procedures, products, supplies, and services.
Responsibilities of a Medical Coder
One of the core responsibilities of a medical coder is to ensure the accuracy of the medical records you transcribe and the codes you use. Other medical coder job requirements include proficiency in a variety of medical codes and adherence to the medical coding code of ethics.
• Transcribing patient information into appropriate medical codes
• Examining medical documents and records for missing information
• Conducting chart audits
• Collecting, researching, and filing patient medical information
• Ensuring all documents are grammatically correct
• Complying with medical coding guidelines and policies
Medical Coding vs. Medical Billing
Medical coding differs from medical billing in that medical billing deals with financial transactions between insurance carriers and health care providers. A medical biller is in charge of processing insurance claims, generating bills, and managing balances and payments for health care providers.
Medical coding, on the other hand, only pulls billing information and details from a patient’s record to translate into medical coding. So, while both professions deal with medical records, they are in fact entirely different jobs.
There are a variety of medical coding vacancies available, including entry-level positions for those with little or no experience as well as more advanced roles for experienced coders. Some common job titles for medical coders include:
Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
Medical Records Coder
Medical Coding Clerk
Medical Coding Technician
How to become Medical Coder.
• Complete medical coding training.
• Obtain your medical coding certification.
• Brush up on medical coding skills.
• Look for a job.
Medical Coding Salaries
Earnings for medical coders can vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and the type of employer.
The BLS also reports that the top industries employing medical coders are as follows:
Hospitals; state, local, and private: $67,810
Outpatient care centers: $64,300
Medical and diagnostic laboratories: $62,670
Offices of physicians: $59,230
The earning potential in these industries may vary depending on the location, company size, and demand.
It is also worth noting that many medical coders work independently or as a contractor, which can also affect the earning potential. In these cases, earning can be based on the number of projects or the hourly rate.
In summary, the earning potential for medical coders can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, but the median annual wage is around $104,280 and can go up to $182,600.
The earning potential also varies depending on the type of coding. For instance, certified coders with more specialized skills, such as CPC (Certified Professional Coder) or CCS (Certified Coding Specialist), tend to earn more than those without certification.
You do not need any previous experience in medical coding to become a medical coder; however, many certification programs require at least one year of professional work experience. If you need to gain professional experience prior to certification, consider applying for positions like billing assistant where you’ll gain indirect insight into the medical coding process.
Jobs Training and Certifications (3 to 6 Months)
There are several certifications available for medical coders, each of which has its own specific requirements and focuses on different aspects of the coding field. Some of the most commonly recognized certifications include:
Each certification has its own specific requirements, such as education, experience, and passing an exam. Many employers prefer to hire coders who have at least one of these certifications, as it indicates a level of proficiency and expertise in medical coding.
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