Medical coders play a significant role in the healthcare facility sorting through patients' medical records and assign suitable codes to make sure that the medical providers they work for are correctly compensated for their services rendered.
Medical coding is a rapidly growing industry and today it is considered as one among the few lucrative job markets. This field offers a lot of potential for job seekers and employers alike. The medical coders' main task is to allot alphanumeric codes to different medical services and procedures and send them to the insurance companies for reimbursement.
Accurate Coding is not at all an easy task. It requires careful examination of doctor's and nurse's notes to exactly determine the services received by the patient. Even the slightest miscalculations can cost a doctor a huge amount in lost overheads. As hospitals and physicians depend on accurate and timely coding to receive proper compensation, the role of the medical coder is becoming more treasured.
As of date, there are no standardized educational requirements to become a certified medical coder. Many community colleges and online learning centres offer training in medical coding skills which can be completed within a period of 24 months. The AAPC (The American Academy of Professional Coders) also offers a list of medical coding courses.
To become certified, one must need to qualify the various examinations conducted by the AAPC which include testing the knowledge of coding for outpatient facilities, physician offices or payers. Medical Coders who have less than two years of experience receive a CPC-A designation or Apprentice until their experience is complete. As coding depends on the nature of medical services provided, certification in medical coding is available for specific medical specialities like evaluation and management, obstetrics and gynaecology and general surgery. However to maintain a certified status, annual recertification through continuing education is required.
Certified Medical coders can further build their coding experience by working in hospitals, clinics, consulting firms or any other medical facility. In order to maintain their credentials, medical coders can also take advantage of any on-the-job training that is being offered in the workplace.
A Medical Coder's Workday
After gaining the required experience and settling into work, the medical coder beings his workday by assessing the patients' medical records and abstracts other key information from the documentation such as the date of the procedure, the name of the physician, diagnosis, treatment given etc. He then starts transforming the doctor's notes into standardized alphanumeric codes deeply relying on the ICD and CPT code books.
Experienced coders also rely on their peers and pros link to discuss nuances in online forums, interacting with specialists they have met at the state conference or with workmates in the office to help understand the issues and determine the appropriate codes.
Current coding and On-going training related periodicals also provide significant opportunities to develop understanding and professionalism. Medical coders are normally placed on a rather tight schedule and are expected to keep their lag days at a stipulated time frame or to complete a selected number of notes each day.