Medical coding and billing are two related aspects of modern health care and are both involved in the reimbursement cycle, hence ensuring payment of services rendered by all health providers.
Medical coding can be simply defined as assigning a code (numeric or alphanumeric) to stand in place of a doctor’s diagnosis and procedures. A medical coder can be defined as a health information profession, whose work is to identify a globally identifiable code to a patient’s medical diagnosis and procedures.
On the other hand, medical billing can be defined as the liaison between healthcare facilities and insurance company which help in aiding easier processing of medical insurance claims.
A medical biller takes information from the medical coder and make a claim (bill) for the insurance company. Medical billing and coding are related and these tasks are often performed by the same medical professionals in a given health care facility. The main advantage of these jobs is that they can be done from one’s comfort at home or private office.
In a more literal manner, medical coding can be seen as a translation, where the coder takes the doctor’s prescription written in a given way and translates it as accurately as possible into a code.
There are thousands of codes for different medical procedures as every diagnosis, injury and other procedures have unique codes.
There are different code sets and subsets that a medical coder is supposed to be acquainted with. There are two commonly used, namely; the International Classification of Diseases codes (ICD) and Current Procedure Terminology (CPT). ICD corresponds to a patient injury or sickness while the CPT shows the different services and functions that the health care provider did on or for the patient.
These codes are understood by insurance companies, healthcare providers, government organizations like the courts and all other relevant authorities hence making it easier to solve a problem in case one arises.
The coding procedure involves various steps, but first one has to understand how coding works.
If a patient comes to a healthcare facility, they will communicate their symptoms with the doctor, and some tests done on them to determine their illnesses. The doctor then looks at the results and prescribes the right medication for that particular illness.
The doctor or the assistant records every part of the patients visits and it’s the job of the coder to translate this message into a coded form. There are codes for what type of visit it is, the symptoms shown, the test taken, the results and the recommended medication.
Once the coder has coded the message, its recorded in a given software program or a form and passed to the medical biller.
Due to the many codes, that medical coders have to learn, medical coding come with its challenges.
The codes are also frequently updated, meaning one has to be active in medical codes information to remain updated and to prevent errors in coding.
There is, however, a sigh of relief as over the years, medical coders software programs and reference books have been developed making coding easier.
For those who want to join the programs to get certified as medical coders, it’s quite easier as there are different medical schools one can enroll in.
One should ensure they find a good training program that gives you hands-on experience and will later help them find a job and internships in the future. They should also research on the current coding programs and ensure that the institutions are offering these programs to increase their employment chances.
Coding can be done remotely thanks to technology. Remote coding can be defined as coding done at a separate place from the doctor’s office, healthcare facility or the place where the treatment was performed. It involves sending the patients’ medical information to a coding specialist or company through a secure network and having them code the message and send it to the relevant institution, be it back to the healthcare facility or the biller.
Remote coding has come in handy for small medical facilities as they are saving time and money spent. Large facilities can also benefit from this service as there is increased accuracy.
One main problem of remote coding is getting clients, especially for first timers. There are different things that one can do to ensure success in the remote coding business.
They include; advertising, marketing, creating a website with sample codes, offering discounts and others. Remote coding clients are mostly small medical facilities, individual private doctors and sometimes, though rarely large medical firms and hospitals.
The average starting salary of a medical coder, according to the AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders) is US$ 46,800 per year.
In conclusion, we can see that coding is an important aspect of a modern healthcare system and should therefore be considered as a career.
It’s also clear that with the emerging trend of remote coding, self-employment chances are increasingly made available for individuals hence creating more employment and revenue. One should therefore feel encouraged and comfortable to take on this job, but ensure they have the right training and understands fully about the job before getting in this emerging field.
After months of training, one must take and pass a state exam in order to be a Certified Professional Coder (CPC). The exam is challenging and in order to help students pass practice exams are sold on the internet, one of the best practice exams can be found here, it’s a digital download that you can have within minutes and is also printable.
Click here to get the practice exam that will have you passing the CPC exam on the first try.