Medical coding specialists don't treat patients, but they are essential to the delivery of high quality healthcare. Medical coders help ensure that patients aren't overcharged for the services they receive. They also make sure healthcare providers and insurance companies are compensated properly, and that researchers have the data they need to help prevent diseases and epidemics. Without medical coders, our healthcare system would fail.
Medical coding happens whenever someone visits a doctor or healthcare facility. When a doctor makes a diagnosis or performs a procedure or surgery during an office visit or in the hospital, patient records and billing documents are updated with special alphanumeric codes.
The job of applying those codes is performed by a health information professional known as a medical coding specialist or medical coder.
Medical codes facilitate billing for doctors and insurance companies and are used by government health programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. Medical codes are also used for statistical analysis and to track diseases and health conditions worldwide.
A medical coder determines which codes to apply based on documentation provided by the healthcare provider. As a medical coder, you will review a variety of documents, including transcribed notes from a physician, visit summaries, and test results.
You will have to become familiar with medical terminology, and you may be required to become a Certified Professional Coder (CPC), or become a member of the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).
According to the AAPC, the average annual salary for a medical coder (certified and non-certified) exceeds $55K. That's about 15% above the median salary of all U.S. occupations. A college degree is not required to be a medical coder, but coders with a bachelors or master’s degree can earn significantly more.
Your salary will also depend on your level of certification. For example, becoming a Certified Inpatient Coder can raise your salary to $65K. With additional certifications and credentials, you can expect to earn more than $70K per year.
In addition to excellent pay, health information positions offer good job security and better quality of life. Health information professionals rank number 55 on the U.S. News and World Report's list of 100 Best Jobs. Medical coders are also in very high demand, and are listed among the top 20 fastest growing occupations by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically expanded the number of remote medical coding job opportunities. But while technology makes it possible work from home as a medical coder, remote medical coders must take steps to protect patient privacy and personal health information (PHI).
As a work at home medical coder you will need to have wi-fi routers and computers that are encrypted and password protected. You will also need to have quiet place to work, since medical coding requires concentration, accuracy and speed to reach production targets.
As you might imagine, thousands of medical codes are used in healthcare. As a medical coder, you will have to become familiar with these codes. The ICD and CPT Codes are among the most common and important. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes relate to a diagnosis.
ICD codes are found in electronic medical records, medical charts, bills, and hospital records. Common Procedural Technology (CPT codes) refer to a procedure or service performed. CPT codes are maintained by the American Medical Association (AMA). It's important for these codes to be in agreement.
One of the newest and most significant medical codes is U07.1. That’s the ICD code for COIVD-19. The code is not only important for healthcare providers, it will be used by epidemiologists and government officials to track the spread of the disease and fight the Coronavirus pandemic. When someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, contract tracers become involved to help identify and notify those who may have been exposed to the disease.