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Pros and cons of being a medical coder

Many people have never heard of “medical coder” profession. This is understandable since all the medical coding magic happens behind the scenes, and a patient will normally never meet a medical coder while visiting a doctor. A medical coder is typically a backend staff who is familiar and works with the thousands of Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes used by health care providers. A typical day in a medical coder’s life is to sort patient charts, glean through the data and assign the CPTs so that health providers may receive medical reimbursements in a timely manner.

Pros and cons of a medical coder’s job

Pros:

  • Relatively easy to study, with a myriad of affordable courses online
  • Short duration before graduating and getting a job with reputable health care providers
  • Less patient interaction compared to other medical professionals like nurses and physicians
  • Good career advancements for executive-level positions

Cons:

  • With reduced interaction with patients, some medical coders may find their work rather banal and routine
  • A need to keep up with current medical trends as well as updates to codes and regulations

Skills and responsibilities of a medical coding staff

Typically, a medical coder should be comfortable working with numbers and data-crunching. They should possess a great attention to detail and not overlook any information that may prove vital to health providers and patients alike.

A medical coding worker is also tasked with the billing aspect of his or her work where the coder has to review and submit medical as well as insurance claims. During this process, some interpersonal skills are needed to gather and convey data between health care providers and other staff in the office. When the need arises, the medical coder in charge will need to liaise with insurance firm representatives to facilitate insurance claims process.

One useful skill a medical coder should have is the ability to work with computers. The coding staff should also familiarize him or herself with billing software programs to expedite their work.

Work environment

There is a variety of settings medical coders can choose to work in. Besides the usual health care facilities such as hospitals and physician offices, medical coder specialists may also opt to work in nursing homes, pediatric centers and mental health facilities. However, should they elect not to earn their living in any of the above, they may choose less than medically-conventional environments such as those at insurance firms, independent companies offering coding and billing services, government organizations and public health agencies.

Most medical coders are full time employees although some chose to work part time in order to fulfil other personal responsibilities at home. While a large percentage of them work in a health care facility’s back office or even in office buildings housing larger insurance companies, it is not a rarity to see some of them performing their jobs at home. However, before you agree to such working arrangement, you should realize that there have been numerous scams circulating the Internet. These scams are perpetrated by conmen selling online courses, resources or even business opportunities under the pretence of offering lucrative off-site medical coding positions. You should go to great lengths to find out if it’s a legit offer before signing up for any course. Most importantly, you should only enrol in accredited programs to prevent loss of time, money and energy later on.

Job outlook and future opportunities

It is reported that there would be an influx of medical coding and billing positions by the year 2015, and by 2020, there would be a 21% growth for the demand of specialists in the health care information technology arena. There will be exponential growth and shortage of such positions, so those who are thinking about going into the medical sector now may want to look into medical coding courses.

Health care business analysts are also predicting a need for executive-level medical coding positions to be filled. Created by insurance firms and large medical offices, these positions will definitely net suitable candidates higher salaries per year. However, if being a conglomerate staff isn’t your thing, you may want to start your own home business that gives you more control over clients and projects you choose to take on.

Filed in: Medical Billing And Coding Career

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