A close friend of mine has led a very successful career over the last twelve years in Healthcare Information Management (HIM).
For many who want to work in healthcare but can’t stand the sight of blood, medical billing and coding would be a great way to have the best of both worlds.
What exactly is medical coding?
According to AHIMA (the US authority on healthcare information management) medical coding is defined as:
“…the transformation of narrative descriptions of diseases, injuries, and healthcare procedures into numeric or alphanumeric designations (that is, code numbers). The code numbers are detailed in order to accurately describe the diagnoses (that is, what is wrong with the patient) and the procedures performed to test or correct these diagnoses. Because medicine is not always an exact science, codes were developed to identify all reasons for seeking healthcare.”
For anyone who is interested in either medical billing or coding, the following information will provide steps and resources to help you get started.
Appeal of Medical Billing and Coding Jobs
So what’s the big deal about these jobs? To start, you don’t always need a four year degree. However, having your bachelor’s degree does get the ball rolling much faster and opens up a world of opportunities in the industry.
Medical billing and coding jobs are available through individual doctors’ offices, hospitals, medical groups, insurance companies and healthcare recruiting firms.
Within healthcare management, there are several levels of growth available. Depending on your goals and expertise, you can find yourself working in a facility, working from home or traveling across the country.
As a medical coder, you can learn to code inpatient, outpatient and ER charts.
How to Start Your Medical Billing and Coding Career
As mentioned above, a degree is not required to work as a medical biller or coder, but it does help. A lot of older employees in the field will tell you they learned on the job. My friend, who is now a veteran coder, started out volunteering in the medical records department at a local hospital.
Most people transition from medical billing to coding because they already have a grasp of the codes and procedures.
Your climb up the medical coding ladder however, does move faster when you have a few certifications under your belt. The most common industry certification is the CPC (Certified Professional Coder). Normally this is used for physician coding and entails more ICD-9 (ICD-10 effective 2014) principles and guidelines.
Above the CPC is the CCS (Certified Coding Specialist). This credential is normally used for facility / hospital coding (AHIMA) and is heavily based and focused on CPT coding principles and guidelines.
Here is the rundown. With a degree, you can acquire additional certifications and a higher degree concentrating in HIM. Without a degree, you can get on the job training; take courses to sharpen your skills and additional certifications to build your credentials.
It all depends on where you are right now. How much education or experience do you have? How much money do you have to invest in your career? There are options for you at every stage.
Medical Billing and Coding Jobs Certifications and Resources
The two top authorities for medical coding and billing are the AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders) and AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association).
The two most popular industry certifications are the CPC and the CCS as explained above. Spend some time on both websites to better acquaint yourself with their offerings and resources.
The AAPC has a great networking forum in which you can ask questions and learn from other coders.
Medical Billing and Coding Jobs
Here are 10 examples of top medical billing and coding jobs:
- Medical Billing Specialist
- Medical Coding Specialist
- Medical Manager
- Patient Representative
- Medical Auditing Specialist
- Clinical Data Specialist
- Medical Consultant
- Medical Billing and Coding Educator
- Legal Counsel
- Medical Billing Technical Support
Where to Find Medical Billing and Coding Jobs & Information
I hope this article has provided enough information to help you get started with a medical billing or coding job. It is a great field that offers training, growth, education, security and professionalism.
If you don’t know what you want to do with your life or feel as if you are stuck in a dead end job, consider a new career in Healthcare Information Management. In less than six months, you can have a new start for much less than the cost of a four year degree.
Share your thoughts and experiences with getting medical billing and coding jobs in the comments below.
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