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Medical Coding

Medical Coding Training and Career Information
Medical Coding Schools

Medical Coding

Medical Coding Job Description
Medical coding professionals translate medical procedures performed by physicians into a set of standard codes that facilitate the insurance claim and payment process. They perform an integral role in today's health care infrastructure. Medical practitioners, health insurance companies, and patients rely on medical billing and coding experts to connect the dots that will ensure a straight line of health information data communication among all parties.

It should be noted that Medical billing professionals are not the same as Medical coding professionals. Many medical coding professionals pursue medical billing training to expand their career opportunities. Medical billing professionals must have knowledge of coding to perform their jobs. However, they are not interchangeable professions. Each has a distinct responsibility in the healthcare field.

Medical coding professionals ensure that the healthcare industry has accurate and timely medical data. Medical coders translate a health provider's descriptions of diseases, injuries, and procedures into numeric and alphanumeric code. The medical code is used for many reasons, such as mortality data, procedural data, access to medical records by diagnoses and procedures for use in clinical care, research, and education. Since the federal government's mandate to electronically maintain all patient health records, medical coders have enjoyed a surge in career opportunities.

Medical billers handle daily billing procedures for healthcare providers. Medical billing tasks include processing, adjusting and resubmitting claims, while adhering to current healthcare regulations and complying with insurance procedures and allotted benefits coverage.

Career Opportunities Include:

  • Medical Coder
  • Insurance Claims Analyst
  • Coding Specialist
  • Abstractor
  • Medical Office Assistant
  • Coding Technician
  • Medical Billing Specialist
  • Medical Clerk
  • Health Information Specialist

Medical Coding Career Outlook
Medical coding and billing offers a promising career. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment in medical records and health information to increase by 15% from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.

The promising future is because of rapid growth in the number of medical tests, treatments, and procedures that will be increasingly scrutinized by health insurance companies, regulators, courts, and consumers. Also, technicians will be needed to enter patient information into computer databases to comply with Federal legislation mandating the use of electronic medical records.

New jobs are expected in offices of physicians as a result of increasing demand for detailed records, especially in large group practices. New jobs also are expected in home health care services, outpatient care centers, and nursing and residential care facilities.

Cancer registrars should experience job growth. As the population continues to age, the incidence of cancer may increase.

In addition, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will provide $19 billion in financial incentives to help physicians purchase and implement health information technology systems,. This will further increase the demand for qualified medical coding and health information professionals.

Medical Coding Salary
Qualified medical records professionals can expect excellent earning potential. The US BLS states that the median annual wage of medical records and health information technicians was $37,110 in 2015.

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Medical Coding Education
The goal of most medical coding candidates is to become a certified medical coder. A quality medical coding program is designed to prepare graduates to sit for the first certification exam. There are six certification exams one can take to become a certified coding professional—some exams require one year of hands-on experience before eligibility, and some are geared toward working in a specific environment (such as a physician's office, insurance company or hospital).

Medical Coding Curriculum
Quality medical coding programs will be extensive because they must help students become proficient in topics such as:

  • Evaluation and management
  • Anesthesia
  • Surgical services
  • Radiology
  • Pathology
  • Medicine
  • Medical Terminology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • ICD-9-CM
  • Coding guidelines
  • Practice management
  • Medical reimbursement

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Professional Certification
Two organizations offer exams to earn coding certifications.

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA):

American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC):
  • CPC Certified Professional Coder
  • CCPC-H Certified Professional Coder (hospital-based)
  • CPC-P Certified Professional Coder (for insurance payers)
There are currently no national exams or certifications that is widely accepted for Medical Billers. However, the industry is striving to establish universally accepted credentials.

Medical Coding Professional Organizations

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
    233 N. Michigan Avenue, 21st Floor
    Chicago, IL 60601-5800
American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
    2480 South 3850 West
    Suite B
    Salt Lake City, UT. 84120

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