If you have always wanted a job in healthcare but would prefer not to train to be a healthcare provider, then you might be wondering what kind of positions are available. The good news is that the healthcare industry relies on more than just doctors and nurses. There are countless individuals that do not work on the frontline but who are also vital to the sector. Take medical coders as just one example.
What is a Medical Coder?
The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) describes medical coding as ‘the transformation of healthcare diagnosis, procedures, medical services, and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes’.
In simple terms, a medical coder must take a patient file or report, look at the information in that report, and then translate it into specific alphanumeric codes. According to Find-A-Code.com, the codes used might be ICD 11 diagnosis codes or CPT codes, depending on the information in the report.
Every single diagnosis, procedure, treatment, administrative task, and piece of equipment used for a patient will have its own specific code. Coders must find the appropriate code and assign it to the patient file. The codes are then used by insurance companies and other payers such as Medicare and Medicaid. Medical coding is a universal language that ensures that everyone is on the same page.
What Does it Take to Become a Medical Coder?
One of the most attractive things about a career in medical coding is the fact that it offers a relatively quick route into healthcare, especially when compared with other healthcare jobs such as a doctor or nurse.
For your information, we offer you the below from the AAPC. The AAPC lists these following steps to become a medical coder:
- Step 1: Test-Drive Your Career Choice With a Few Basic Questions
- Step 2: Take a Medical Coding Training Course
- Step 3: Study for the CPC Exam
- Step 4: Pass the CPC Certification Exam
- Step 5: Network at Your Local Chapter
- Step 6: Get a job
- Step 7: Further Your Career — Get Another Certification
- Step 8: Earn an Advanced Certification & Earn More
What are the Attributes of a Good Medical Coder?
Medical coding is not for everyone. It can be a demanding job with deadlines to meet, so if you are unable to work under pressure then you might not enjoy working in this fast-paced environment.
You will need to have a high level of attention to detail as accuracy is vitally important in medical coding. Mistakes can be costly for your employer as they can lead to claims being rejected causing delayed payments or denied payments resulting in no payment at all. Medical coders must be able to always stay focused to ensure they are inputting precise information.
Everyone working in the healthcare sector needs to practice discretion. You are going to be handling sensitive patient information and so are bound by law to always keep this information safe and secure. Indeed, failure to do so could result in legal action.
You will also need to be an effective communicator. A part of your job will mean dealing with other people. It might be other medical coders and billers or physicians working in the medical facility. You might also have to speak to individuals from insurance companies and government agencies like Medicaid and Medicare.
While medical coding is a quicker route into the healthcare industry than clinical jobs, it is not for everyone. However, if you are comfortable working to deadlines and have a keen eye for detail, you might love working as a medical coder, where you can earn a competitive salary in a respected industry.