Reality Check: Is Medical Coding Really as Difficult as You Think?

Coding and BillingMilitaryCareer AdviceNo Comments

difficulty studyingMedical coding and billing careers are in-demand—there’s expected to be a 50% shortage nationwide by the end of the year, meaning there is a great job waiting for you! So don’t get discouraged if a medical coding training program seems too hard to begin or finish; it may be easier than you think. Here are some tips and words of encouragement for choosing and enduring a formal training program to become a coding pro.

What is medical coding and billing?
A medical coder is a health information professional who assigns universally identifiable codes to a patient’s medical diagnoses and procedures. Medical billing professionals, on the other hand, are the liaisons between health insurance companies and healthcare facilities. They create and present health insurance claims then collect the funds. In smaller offices, the same person often handles both coding and billing.

Is medical coding difficult?
As there are thousands of codes and accuracy is essential, this profession does come with its challenges. Medical coders and billers use thousands of codes from multiple code sets (ICD, CPT, HCPCS) that are updated frequently. They also convert complex medical information into clearly defined sets of codes, which demands a knowledge of health topics such as anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology.

But wait! Before you quit your training program, there is a very shiny silver lining: you don’t need to memorize all those codes. Medical coders reference codebooks and coding software programs in order to make the correct assignment. Just be sure to keep abreast of frequent code updates, such as the current transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10, and technological advances like the electronic health record (EHR) system.

Can I learn medical coding?
Because healthcare is currently going through some big changes, now is a great time to jump in. With the help of a quality medical coding training program, you can be a certified pro within months. A good training program will teach you everything you need for success and help you find a job and make connections. What really makes a training program top-notch is if it provides hands-on experience and job-finding helps. Programs should include practice on authentic medical records and reports as well as tools for graduates.

Make sure your training program covers all aspects of the job, including ICD-9 and ICD-10 coding systems, classification systems, medical terminology, health information guidelines, and reimbursement methodologies. It is important to learn both ICD-9 and ICD-10 because the switch to ICD-10 doesn’t happen until Oct 1, 2015, and there will be growing pains as facilities and records make the transition. That puts you in a great position to get a job right out of training.

Already enrolled in a program? Be sure to take full advantage of the resources your program offers. For example, Career Step’s online medical coding and billing training offers students valuable graduate resources, including established employer relationships, resume and cover letter review, personalized interview tutorials, new job notifications, and an advice hotline.

With the right training and a little hard work, you can conquer the challenges of medical coding and billing and land a great job at a critical time in the field. Already finished school? What has your training experience been? Comment below and let us know what encouragement you have for newbies in the field.

If you are interested in this in-demand career, browse through Career Step’s medical coding program with comprehensive ICD-10 training. Call us now for more info!


Comments
Leave a comment below »

  1. Kim Workman July 28, 2015

    Is medical coding a job that can be done from home, or in an office setting only.

  2. Hi Kim,
    It is possible to work from home as a medical coder. We have a company by the name of IOD, who like to hire a lot of our graduates. Sometimes, when just starting out as a coder, you may need to work in an office setting to gain experience, but then you have the ability and knowledge to work remote. So, there are possibilities out there, its just a matter of finding them. Good luck!

  3. Adriane August 13, 2015

    Do you have to have excellent and a quick memory/comprehension to ace the training in coding?

  4. Coding Support August 14, 2015

    It is very important to be able to comprehend medical reports in order to code them. In the program we cover medical terminology, pathophysiology, ext to train and assist in this area.
    Medical coding involves research, as coders we are often required to meet industry/company quotas, so being a quick researcher can become important.  Most of the time speed comes in time with practice.

  5. Aquila Cummings August 16, 2015

    How do you get the training that is needed? I have a degree already in Medical Billing and Coding, and I need the training.

  6. Coding Support August 17, 2015

    Training is provided in the CareerStep program. In addition to the teaching we have a practicum, providing experience coding real medical reports.

  7. Sharon Boney August 21, 2015

    I am already enrolled in CareerStep’s Medical Coding and Billing for ICD-9,  with hopes of being finished by the end of January 2016. Should I enroll in the ICD-10 program once I am finished with my current program?

  8. Sharon,
    I would definitely enroll in the ICD-10 fast track once you have completed the ICD-9 portion of the course. This will prepare you for the ICD-10 implementation beginning on 10/1/2015.

  9. Janice Totten September 21, 2015

    I was an administrator for a large family practice as well as a member of MGMA (Medical Group Managers Association). I have experience in computerized medical records, computerized and electronic billing, coding, negotiating with HMO’s and Fee for Service reimbursement rates, computerized scheduling, human resources, creating encounter “cheat sheets”,and all aspects of overseeing the day to day operations of a family practice. I also was trained as a broadband support specialist working from my home office troubleshooting poor connections and ensuring customers were connected to the internet. However, I am now physically challenged and unable to work a full time job. I want to learn the new ICD10 codes and work from my home office. However, due to my physical condition, I need flexibility and a part time work schedule.  Voc-Rehab will help pay for the classes but I need to be sure there will be a position that is flexible and allow for part time work. I have an appointment with Voc-Rehab on October 1st and would like to assure them that I spoke with a potential employer who would hire somebody like me with my skills and limitations.  Is it possible to speak with a potential employer about this prior to signing on to take the classes?  Thank you for your help.  Janice Totten

  10. Graduate Support September 22, 2015

    Janice,

    You are welcome to contact your enrollment advisor, or contact graduate support directly. We would need additional information on what you are looking for.

  11. Anneliese Wade October 09, 2015

    Dear Janice Totten,

    I wanted to respond to your question. I went through BVR for my education. Not only did they pay for my classes, they paid for me to join AHIMA, my exam and all my books(through ALBIRIS) needed to take the exam.Talk with your vocational counselor to have it put into your plan.I have seen many part time jobs available in this field.Good luck with your future.

  12. Mike January 06, 2016

    I was thinking of getting into medical coding but what discourages me a bit is that I read somewhere that most coding jobs give you a quota you have to,meet.  Is this always true or does it depend in where you work To me, working quickly and rushing increases your chances of making errors. Thanks!

  13. Amanda January 11, 2016

    I have a certificate from Ross Medical Education Center in Medical Insurance Billing and Office Administration. We coded some as well, although coding was not the bulk of our training. I unfortunately have not used my certificate because of I’m on SSI due to degenerative disk disease, migraines sensitive to florescent lighting and Asperger’s. I enjoyed coding the best because of the analytical aspect. Are there particular employment websites that look for disabled workers looking to work in their homes?

  14. Coding Support January 11, 2016

    Hi Mike,
    Some employers may hold productivity standards, you will need to check with the employer for their requirements.  Other places may not hold you accountable for your rates, especially as an entry-level coder.  Often the productivity standards are not a requirement until you have some more training and experience with their systems.

  15. Ingrida July 25, 2016

    Hi,
    I am soon to be 50 and English is my third language, which is OK but not perfect. Do you think it would be too hard for me to pass this course?
    Thank you in advance,
    Sincerely Inga

  16. Career Step July 26, 2016

    Hi Inga,
    Thank you for reaching out to us—and Happy (almost) Birthday!

    All of our courses are in English and our instructors only speak English. Feel free to contact an academic advisor at 1-800-411-7073;  they can help you assess whether the medical coding and billing course would be a good fit for you!

    Best wishes!

  17. Heather Albert August 12, 2016

    Ive been considering a career in medical coding and billing. However, I have been reading alot about how hard it is to find a job because employers want someone with at least two years experience. How is someone at entry level suppose to get that experience? I live in a small town and am worried if I go through with the program it will be a waste of my time and money.

  18. Career Step August 15, 2016

    Hi Heather,
    Thank for reaching out to us!
    You’re right, employers are looking for experience. However, with the shortage of medical coders, experience isn’t always available, and they hire newbies. (We recently published a blog post on this. Check it out at http://www.careerstep.com/.../career…/why-would-i-apply....) Our program was also developed with lots of employer feedback to make sure students are ready to earn industry certifications and have the skills employers are looking for. That’s how you get to be one of the only entirely online certificate programs approved by AHIMA. Best wishes!

     

  19. Ismaila Olu October 22, 2016

    Thanks for the info.
    Please I will like to know what minimum level of education one can attain before venturing into the medical billing/coding career. I am a high school graduate, I do not know if this can reduce my chances of getting a job as well. Thanks.

  20. Career Step October 25, 2016

    Hi Ismalia,
    Thank you for reaching out to us! To enroll in a Career Step course a GED certificate or high school diploma is required. We offer graduate services to help you in finding a job and training that will help prepare you for the job market.

    Hope this helps!


Respond

*Required

Request Info

Loading