For job searchers, healthcare is one of the fastest-growing industries. With a profession in medical billing and coding, you can work in the flourishing healthcare field even if you have no interest in patient care.
Medical billing and coding is a critical administrative role in the healthcare field.
Careers in healthcare support jobs are predicted to grow in tandem with the larger healthcare sector.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of medical secretaries, including medical billing and coding professionals, is expected to grow 22% from 2016 to 2026. (BLS).
This tutorial will answer your questions about how to get started in the medical billing and coding field. Learn about what the job entails, how to get the necessary education and training, how to get a job in this profession, and other details you’ll need to get started in medical billing and coding.
What is the difference between medical billing and coding?
Medical billing and coding specialists employ technology to assist healthcare providers in updating patient data and obtaining payment for services done. Workers in this sector issue standard codes to each diagnostic and medical procedure and enter them into a patient’s medical record. This information is also sent to insurance companies so that they can handle healthcare claims accurately.
Medical billing and coding professionals operate in a variety of settings, including medical offices, hospitals, rehabilitation institutions, and public health authorities.
This job is frequently performed in an office setting. Many medical billing and coding professionals work full-time, although depending on the organisation, part-time opportunities may be available.
Medical billing and coding experts’ attire varies depending on the company and setting. You may be required to wear scrubs similar to those worn by clinical staff, or you may choose to dress in business casual.
How Much Do Medical Billing and Coding Specialists Earn?
Medical secretaries earned a median yearly pay of $34,610 in May 2017, according to the BLS. The wage for this employment, however, might vary depending on a variety of circumstances, including where you live and the type of business you work in.
Medical secretaries who work in scientific research and development services, for example, had the highest median annual compensation, at $42,780, according to BLS statistics. State government medical billing and coding specialists earned a higher median wage of $42,710 per year. The field’s top ten percent earned more than $50,340 every year.
When combined with further experience, obtaining industry certification, such as the AAPC’s Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) credential, can lead to increased pay. Coders with an average of 13 years of experience and the CPC certification earned an average yearly pay of $54,106, according to the 2017 AAPC Salary Survey.
Medical Billing and Coding Job Outlook
Medical billing and coding careers, like others in the healthcare business, are on the rise. Medical secretaries, including medical billing and coding professionals, are expected to see a 22 percent growth in employment by 2026, according to the BLS. This rate is substantially higher than the national average, and it will result in around 129,000 new job openings in the following years.
Medical billing and coding could be a solid option based on the present job outlook if expected job openings are an essential element in your career search. People will require more medical care as the population ages. As a result of the rise in these services, there will be more medical record changes and insurance claims to process.
More healthcare claims can equate to a higher demand for your skill set if you work in medical billing and coding. Someone will have to organise and code all of the data needed to process each medical claim.
And, as healthcare companies increasingly rely on electronic tools to manage their practises, qualified personnel who understand how to use this technology will be in high demand. Once you’ve completed your training and certification, the faster-than-average employment growth in this field should speak well for your long-term job chances.
What Classes Are Required for Medical Billing and Coding?
Medical billing and coding students take classes in a number of areas to prepare them for managing medical data, applying codes, sending invoices, and assisting with other healthcare business activities.
Technical expertise, healthcare information, and business themes are all covered in medical billing and coding programmes. Medical terminology, the healthcare claims cycle, and the medical coding system will all be covered.
This combination of disciplines gives students the groundwork they’ll need to start a career in medical billing and coding. The following are examples of typical courses in a medical billing and coding programme:
- Diagnostic Coding
- Procedural Coding
- Billing and Coding Application
- Introduction to Computers
- Introduction to Healthcare Communication
- Medical Terminology
- Medical Law and Ethics
- Records Management
- Healthcare Settings, Claim Cycle, and Claims Processing
- Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathophysiology
What Does a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Do?
Medical billing and coding experts are required in every aspect of healthcare. They arrange health-related data and ensure that everyone in the healthcare facility has access to it. Working with computerised data is the norm in this profession, while some workplaces save paper files as well. Medical billing and coding professionals should be conversant with computers because so much of their work is done online.
Another important aspect of this work is ensuring that all medical and billing data is correct. It’s critical to have accurate data to guarantee that patients get the care they need and that insurers get the information they need to process and cover claims.
Medical billers and coders must also ensure that the patient information they handle is kept safe at all times. Patient confidentiality is mandated by law, therefore medical billing and coding specialists must take precautions to ensure that all of the information they handle is secure.
One of the most important requirements for medical billing and coding work is knowledge of classification systems. To categorise all patient information, these experts employ universal codes.
This information is used to assist healthcare professionals in receiving reimbursement from insurance companies for medical operations. The codes are also used to standardise the medical histories and treatment data of patients for physician records. When numerous team members and/or specialists are involved in diagnosing and treating patients, this is extremely useful.
Job Duties for Medical Billing and Coding Specialists
Let’s take a closer look at what medical billers and coders perform on a day-to-day basis now that we’ve covered what they do. Some job responsibilities will vary depending on the demands of the employer, but here are some of the more typical ones for people who work in medical billing and coding:
- Review medical data as soon as possible.
- Always keep your data nicely structured.
- Ensure that medical records are accurate and full.
- Input clinical codes into medical classification software so that insurance companies can reimburse providers and/or patients.
- Fill out medical records in the correct format for medical registries and databases.
- For quality assurance, keep track of patient outcomes.
- Maintain thorough electronic records so that medical personnel may quickly access, analyse, and report on data.
- Ensure that patient information is kept private at all times.
- Examine a patient’s medical records for any pre-existing conditions and/or previous treatment to ensure that the information is properly coded.
- When a patient receives a medical diagnosis, use the relevant codes to help healthcare professionals administer proper care, health statisticians collect population statistics, and healthcare facilities submit the necessary information to seek insurance payment.
- Interact with insurance companies and the healthcare institution.
Is Medical Billing and Coding the Right Career for You?
When deciding on a career route, there are numerous factors to consider. If you’re considering a job in medical billing and coding, make sure you do your homework and ask all of the pertinent questions.
You’ll want to find out how much the job pays, what it entails, and how the field is likely to develop in the future. However, there are additional factors that may influence your job happiness in a medical billing and coding employment, in addition to the job outlook and work environment.
To see if a job in medical billing and coding is right for you, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it possible for me to follow directions to the letter?
- Is it possible for me to ensure patient privacy and confidentiality?
- Is it safe for me to use technology?
- Would I be able to work for long periods of time at a computer?
- Do I get along with others?
- Can I maintain my composure in the face of adversity, such as a billing error?
- Is it possible for me to maintain my records nicely organised?
- Do I have the interpersonal skills necessary to effectively connect with coworkers, patients, and insurance companies?
- Is it true that I pay attention to even the tiniest details?
If you replied “yes” to all of the above questions, you might be a good fit for a career in medical billing and coding.
Job Options in Medical Billing and Coding
Medical billing and coding careers can take on a variety of distinct job titles. They can differ depending on the occupational obligations of the role.
Some jobs may have the same basic responsibilities as others, but different titles depending on the employer or area. Additional education and/or work experience may be required for management-level positions in this industry.
Medical billing and coding jobs include the following:
Coordinator of Medical Records
Specialist in medical coding
Specialist in Medical Billing
Technician in Medical Records (or Medical Records Tech)
Specialist in Health Information
Clerk for Medical Records
Clerk in the Health Information Department
Analyst of Medical Records
Technician in Health Information (or Health Information Tech)
Manager of Medical Billing
Director of Medical Records
How to Become a Medical Biller and Coder
Formal training is one of the most effective ways to become a medical biller and coder. While it is possible to get started in this sector with only on-the-job training, the majority of medical billing and coding employment require specialised schooling. Employer-specific employment requirements may differ.
There are several educational paths to becoming a medical billing and coding professional. A certificate or diploma programme, which may be finished in less than a year, is usually the quickest method. Students may also choose to pursue a degree, which can help graduates qualify for jobs with more stringent standards. An associate degree normally takes less than two years to complete and includes general education studies as well as pertinent healthcare, billing, and coding coursework. Some employers may also need certification from candidates.
Consider your job goals while deciding which educational path is ideal for you. Check to see what the requirements are at some of the local organisations where you’d like to work, as different employers may have different needs for working in this sector.
If you want to work your way up to a managerial job in the future, an associate degree can be a good option. If you decide to continue your education to improve your career prospects, the credits you earn toward an associate degree may be transferable to a bachelor’s degree program—especially if your school has established partnerships with other academic institutions that have agreed to accept your credits toward specific bachelor’s degree programmes.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Work as a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist?
Depending on the needs of the company, medical billing and coding professionals may have varying employment requirements. To work in medical billing and coding, most businesses require a certificate/diploma or an associate degree. Some employers may also need you to acquire industry certification.
Aside from the educational requirements, medical billing and coding specialists should possess specific skills that will aid them in their work. Important qualities for medical secretaries, according to the BLS, include:
- Decision-making abilities, which will aid them in analysing diagnoses and medical records to find the most appropriate manner to code them for patients’ medical records.
- Attention to detail is necessary for effectively recording and coding patient information.
- Even in high-stress situations like billing disputes or denied insurance claims, good communication and interpersonal skills are essential.
- Word processing, spreadsheets, and database software, as well as electronic health record (EHR) systems and medical coding and classification tools, are all examples of computer abilities.
Technology Skills Needed to Work in Medical Billing and Coding
Medical billing and coding professionals are frequently expected to employ technology in their work. Although the precise programmes and applications used by each organisation may differ, the software generally allows users to accomplish a comparable set of basic functions.
The following are some of the technology skills that are generally required to work in medical billing and coding, according to O*NET OnLine, a BLS database of occupational information:
- Software for accounting
- Software for billing
- Software for data entering
- User interface and query software for databases
- Software for coding medical conditions
- Software for coding medical procedures
- Software for word processing
- Software for the medical field
- EHR (electronic health record) software
- The Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) is a system for coding (HCPCS)
Many of the technology programmes and skill sets required for a career in medical billing and coding will be taught during your schooling, however some may be learned on the job.
How to Choose a Medical Coding Program and Prepare for Certification
Take some time to consider your alternatives and choose the best one for your needs before starting a medical billing and coding school. You may begin by looking for medical billing and coding jobs in your area to see what qualifications employers are looking for.
You should be able to narrow down your medical billing and coding programme possibilities after you know what the normal employment requirements are. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide which programme to pursue:
- What is your daily routine like?
- Do you have the time to travel to a nearby campus, or would online programmes be more convenient for you?
- Will you be prepared for industry certification as a result of the programme?
- Is there individualised attention available through the programme?
- Will the programme assist you in gaining the necessary skills and knowledge to begin working as a medical billing and coding specialist?
- Is there any hands-on experience with medical coding systems included in the programme?
- Will the training cover topics that appear on industry certification examinations frequently?
- Is the school able to assist with resume writing and/or interview preparation?
- Is there any job-search assistance at the school?
- What types of financial aid are available to students who require assistance?
After you’ve answered these questions and chosen a programme, you’ll need to enrol in your first classes and start working toward your credentials.
How to Get Medical Coding Certification Online
If you want to become a medical coder, online education programmes can help you prepare for the exam in the same way that on-campus training can.
While you can take lessons and study for your medical coding certification exam online, most certifying bodies insist on in-person testing.
Candidates for the AAPC’s Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) credential, for example, must take the exam at an AAPC-approved exam site and meet qualifying conditions. Many states hold the exam in one or more major cities on different dates, allowing candidates to pick the location and time that works best for them.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Medical Coder?
The length of time it takes to become a medical coder is primarily determined by the route you take to get there. If you intend to pursue a certificate, diploma, or degree, the amount of time will be determined by the program’s duration.
Many diploma programmes take less than a year to finish. If you want to enrol in an associate degree programme, you should be able to finish your training and receive your degree in less than two years.
If you want to pursue CPC certification, you’ll need to budget extra time to take the exam and meet the eligibility requirements. If you pass the exam but lack the required work experience for full CPC status, you will be designated as a CPC Apprentice (CPC-A) until you provide proof of experience and/or education.
8 Steps to a Medical Billing and Coding Career
If you are prepared to commit the time and effort required to train and prepare for this role, a career in medical billing and coding may be within your reach. The methods below will assist you in finding the correct school, earning your certificate or degree, obtaining industry certification, conducting your job search, and landing a career in this rapidly increasing area.
Here are the first eight steps to pursuing a career in medical billing and coding:
Examine the prerequisites for specific jobs in your area. Look into the prerequisites for local medical billing and coding jobs before deciding what kind of certifications to pursue. Is a certificate/diploma required for most job listings, or are local companies searching for applicants with an associate degree? Is there a requirement for industry certification?
Choose between a certificate/diploma or a degree programme in medical billing and coding. If you want to get a head start on a career in medical billing and coding, consider enrolling in a diploma programme. Consider earning an associate degree if you want to improve your qualifications. Don’t forget to think about your long-term career objectives.
Look into your financial aid opportunities. If you need financial assistance to pay for school, look into scholarships and financial aid programmes that you could be eligible for. More information on the colleges you’re considering can be found in the “Financial Aid” section of their websites.
Enroll in your preferred programme. After you’ve decided on a programme and been accepted, you can start taking classes and working for your certificate.
Take your certification exam after you’ve graduated. While you can begin applying for medical billing and coding employment as soon as you graduate, it’s a good idea to take the CPC/CPC-A exam as soon as possible after graduation, while the content is still fresh in your mind. Certification may also help you get a higher starting wage.
Prepare your résumé and begin your job search. You’re ready to start looking for a medical billing and coding job once you’ve completed your studies and received your diploma or degree. Check to see if your institution provides career services, such as aid with preparing a résumé to highlight your new skills and/or job search support to help you identify and apply for local jobs.
Attend medical billing and coding job interviews. If your résumé and qualifications impress potential employers, they may invite you to an interview. Check to see whether your school offers job interview preparation to help you practise your abilities before meeting with employers. You should be ready to ace the real thing once you’ve mastered practise interviews.
Get the job and begin your medical billing and coding career. Make an effort to make a good first impression when you accept a job offer and start your first job, and then live up to the expectations you’ve set.
We hope that this tutorial has answered some of your questions concerning medical billing and coding. You might wish to save this page as a bookmark to help you along your path to a profession in medical billing and coding.