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