Today, the essential steps involved in how to become a medical coder are properly looked into. Sit tight and read on.
Before we get into what medical coders do and how to become one, it’s important to first understand and establish what medical coding is all about.
Medical coding and record-keeping can be traced back to 17th-century England, but it has evolved rapidly in the last few decades.
According to the American Academy of Professional Coders, “medical coding is the transformation of healthcare diagnosis, procedures, medical services, and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes.
Simply put, this is the process of converting important medical information into simple codes in order to document medical records and inform accurate medical billing.
In today’s healthcare settings, two types of medical codes are commonly used: the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT). While there are differences between these classification systems, their goal is the same: to allow for uniform documentation between medical facilities. Having a standard system allows for more seamless medical record transfer, streamlined billing, and more efficient research and analysis to track health trends.
Who is a Medical Coder
Medical coders are the people in charge of converting physician reports into useful uniform medical codes.
These professionals work behind the scenes in a variety of settings, ensuring that all relevant information is appropriately coded to ensure consistency and accuracy. In order to process a bill after a medical provider examines or treats a patient, the insurance company or government provider must understand what was done.
Because common language is too imprecise to provide the insurance company with the precise details it requires, a set of specific codes has been established to define medical procedures. It is the medical coder’s responsibility to convey this information in a useful and efficient manner.
When it comes to medical coders, there is no such thing as a “typical” prototype. There will be people of all ages, identities, and experiences. However, good medical coders share some characteristics that help them on the job. Because the patient data they work with is highly confidential, one essential characteristic is a high ethical standard.
Medical coders must also have a keen eye for detail, as a minor error in a code can lead to much larger problems. They must also be able to focus because their work is repetitive but extremely important. It also helps to be efficient and even-tempered, as their work is frequently linked to meeting production and accuracy goals.
There are a few technical skills required for medical coders to succeed in the field, but transferable skills are also important.
From the previous medical coding job postings from the previous year using real-time job analysis software, some of the top skills employers are looking for were identified Top technical abilities for medical coders include: Medical coding, customer billing, ICD-10, CPT coding, health information technology, HCPCS coding, anatomy and physiology, clinical documentation, inpatient coding, and HIPAA compliance.
The following are the top transferable skills for medical coders: Communication, research, and computer proficiency Teamwork/collaboration, Organization, Multi-tasking, Analytical skills, Problem Solving, Microsoft Office Time administration
How to Become a Medical Coder
You now have a basic understanding of the definition of medical coding, what a medical coder is, and the critical role these professionals play in the healthcare industry. The favorable job growth and short path to entry make this an appealing option for those looking to start a career in medicine.
If you’re thinking about pursuing this career, it’s time to get ready for what comes next, which is How one goes about becoming a medical coder. Specialized training and certification are required to become a medical coder. It’s not a job that anyone can do.
But it is precise because of this that medical coders are highly valued professionals in the world of healthcare.
Although training is required, the entry barrier to the health information field is not as high as it is for other healthcare careers.
Step 1: The first step is to meet the basic requirements. A high school diploma or equivalent is required to work as a medical coder.
You must also pass a background check. Applicants with a criminal history that includes drug offenses or sexual crimes will almost certainly be turned down.
Step 2: To become a medical coder, no formal education is required. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most employers prefer candidates with a postsecondary certificate, with some requiring an Associate’s degree (BLS).
Earning a Medical Coding Certificate is a wise decision for those who want to enter the field with a strong foundation of knowledge. Some programs can be completed in as little as 9 months. Here’s a taste of some of the courses available to students: Coding Foundations is a medical coding course, Coding in ICD-CM, ICD-PCS Ambulatory Care Coding Revenue Cycle and Billing Coding. Gaining hands-on experience and a thorough understanding of the industry will enable you to hit the ground running as soon as you land your first medical coding job. You can even complete your medical coding training online to accommodate your already hectic schedule.
Step 3: Obtain your certification in medical coding.
This certification demonstrates to employers that you are a dedicated medical coder who has demonstrated all of the necessary skills to succeed on the job.
The decision to specialize is ultimately yours, but according to the BLS, it can improve your job prospects.
Step 4: Hone your in-demand medical coding skills.
Before you begin applying for medical coding jobs, it’s a good idea to understand what employers are looking for so you can be prepared and put your best foot forward. Being a medical coder necessitates a combination of hard and soft skills.
Step 5: Look for a job.
Getting your first job as a medical coder is the next step. According to the BLS, medical coding jobs will grow 11% through 2028. When looking for medical coding jobs, consider the type of environment you want to work in.
Would you rather be in the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital or the relative calm of a physician’s clinic? There are numerous career paths available in medical coding. Once you’ve gotten your foot in the door and are gaining experience, you can start thinking about future advancement opportunities.
A final thought on how to become a medical coder
Medical coders play an important role in the healthcare system. When you visit the doctor, the doctor or nurse records what procedures were performed or what was diagnosed.
Furthermore, Medical coders take medical records and code them for billing and insurance purposes using their knowledge of thousands of medical codes, payment policies, and government regulations.
Medical coding occurs whenever you visit a healthcare provider. The healthcare provider examines your complaint and medical history determine what is wrong and how to treat and documents your visit. That documentation is not only the patient’s permanent record; it is also how the healthcare provider is compensated.
Diagnosis and procedure codes are derived from medical record documentation, such as transcriptions of physician’s notes, laboratory and radiologic results, and so on. Medical coding professionals assist in ensuring that the codes are correctly applied during the medical billing process, which includes abstracting information from documentation, assigning appropriate codes, and creating a claim to be paid by insurance carriers.
Without them, the medical field would have no idea how much to charge for each procedure, and insurance companies would be unable to adequately cover your care. Medical Billing and Coding Certificate programs can be completed online in as little as nine months.
As a result of this quick and flexible option, aspiring medical coders can fit this training into their busy schedules. It’s an excellent option for working adults with financial and family obligations who want to get into the health information field.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about how to become a medical coder
The answers to some of the most asked questions about how to become a medical coder are found below;
- What are the four different types of medical coding systems?
- ICD-10-CM code (International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition, Clinically Modified) Codes
- CPT stands for Current Procedure Terminology.
- ICD-10-PCS is an abbreviation for International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition, Procedural Coding System.
- Level II HCPCS (Health Care Procedural Coding System, Level II).
- How do I become a medical coder if I have no prior experience?
To become a medical coder without prior experience, you must meet a number of requirements. A high school diploma or GED certificate, good observational skills, and strong technical ability with basic software, such as spreadsheet and medical coding software, are all required.
- How long does it take to become a medical coder?
In most cases, becoming a medical biller and coder takes one to three years. Earning a medical billing and coding certification can take up to a year, while earning an associate degree can take up to three years.
- Do medical coders have to talk on the phone?
Medical coders and billers work behind the scenes in healthcare organizations’ office cubicles. The majority of their day is spent sitting at a desk, typing on a computer, and talking on the phone.
- Is medical coding a stressful profession?
Some people find medical billing to be a stressful job. The work’s deadlines and pacing do take some getting used to, but they are not overwhelming or excessive.