Medical coding is in extremely high demand today and is expected to increase in the next couple of decades, so medical coding careers are on the rise. However, this type of profession is not easy to enter since it requires a great deal of precision and competence. Training through medical coding classes and certification are vital if you are considering having a this particular career.
When a patient goes to the hospital, a medical record is made containing information including patient details, diagnostic procedures performed, medications, and other details. The medical coder will identify billable or reimbursable activities in the patient record and input the standard numerical codes into the health care computer systems. This system will electronically process the codes to determine the amount the health care provider will reimburse or pay. Improper medical coding will result in expensive problems to the health care system. Thus, it is vital that the coder input each bit of information accurately.
There are different ways and levels for how to get medical coding training. Initially, certification is not a requirement for a medical coder. However, most companies strongly prefer to hire coding specialists with valid certifications. Since a large amount of money is involved in this job, it has been tightly supervised, highly regulated and frequently audited to ensure the medical coding billing is accurate.
There are two organizations, which certify medical coders in the U.S.: the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC). Once you achieve certification, you should maintain your credentials through continuing education. As you complete the requirements, you continue improving your status. An example of a certification board is the Radiology Coding Certification Board (RCCB) for those involved in radiology coding.
Finding the medical coding schools that are right for you can be challenging. A great deal of time and money has to be invested into the training and thus, you have to ask yourself why you want to undergo it. If you really want to be in this demanding field, then proceed with the training. Landing in wrong medical training program can be frustrating and a waste of investment. Here are some tips to help you determine which medical coding training program is for you:
- When investigating medical coding and billing careers, one should first check the training program's practicum training and know the details. The best training program is one that will expose you, or at least introduce you, to the real world of the medical coding in addition to the theoretical courses. A practicum allows you to put the theoretical knowledge you learned into hands-on experiences, which will put you in a priority position to your potential employers.
- Study the program's curriculum further for the offered theoretical training. A good program should have standard courses on medical coding industry codes and should build strong competency on fundamental medical topics, law and technology. Know the details of the reading materials needed, resources, books, etc.
- Decide whether you'll commit full-time or part-time. If you're employed, some programs allow you to study from home or on your chosen schedule so that you won't have to quit your current job.
- There are also coding training programs offered online. Know that it may be hard to integrate the practicum side in online training programs.
You should know that it takes time and money to invest in the training and certification needed for the job of a certified medical coder. Although certification is not compulsory, employers will prefer those who are certified medical coders since this job deals with a magnitude amount of money in the industry. Additionally, in finding a medical coding training program, remember that a comprehensive practicum experience will help you become equipped for the real world job.