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By Education Team | 16 Aug. 2019

How to Start a Career in Medical Billing and Coding

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When you think of a career in the medical field, you most likely think of clinicians, such as doctors and surgeons. There are ways to get involved in the medical field without needing medical school or handling patients. A career as a medical biller and coder can provide an avenue to satiate your interest in the medical field by providing support to health providers. Read on to learn about your future career and how to get started.

A Career in Medical Billing and Coding

A career in medical billing and coding involves a lot of analyzing and meticulous imputation. As a biller or coder, it is your job to read and understand patient charts to put them into an electronic system. This is an especially important part because you can catch discrepancies that could help save a patient’s life. You then spend your day putting specific codes into a records system based on patient charts. Once you have your records, you communicate with the medical staff to make sure your reporting is accurate and to notify the staff of any issues. Dealing with patient records requires ensuring confidentiality and privacy compliance. Traditionally, billers and coders work in the office in hospitals, private practices and clinics focusing on a range of medical expertise. As the demand for this position grows, opportunities for remote work also rise. The median income for health information technicians is over $40,000, and the demand is high at 13% above the national average.

How to Start a Career in Medical Billing and Coding

Post-secondary Training

Even though it is one of the medical jobs that does not include clinical work, a career as a medical biller and coder needs specific training. It is possible to find a job in the field without an educational or training program, but many employers require a formal background. You can get a certificate, diploma or associate degree in medical billing. These programs vary widely across providers, but they teach you the knowledge you need to read and interpret charts as well as the standards codes to input information. Take classes in procedures, coding, medical terminology, medical ethics, communication, and basic human anatomy. These programs give you the basic education to understand and analyze charts and communicate with others in the medical field. Certified programs can even help with job placement. Just make sure that your program has accreditation.

Certification

Although certification is not a requirement, it does improve your chances of getting a job and earning a better starting salary. The exam for the Certified Professional Coder by the American Academy of Professional Coders gives you a designation that signals your skills to employers. The association also runs a separate certification process for those only interested in billing. Your exam covers terminology, coding guidelines, ethical awareness, data management, and shows that you have a grasp of knowledge across many different health fields. The exam takes place in-person in multiple states. Preparing for the exam takes a lot of time and effort and the AAPC has resources to help you prepare.

Another option is the Certified Coding Assistant certification through the American Health Information Management Association. This entrance exam into the field covers many of the same topics as the CPC, except it is more widely known among employers. You also have multiple options for certification through the AHIMA. The Certified Coding Assistant exam is for beginners. If you are looking to advance your career after some initial work experience, then the Certified Coding Specialist exam gives you an even higher level of certification. It also offers specialties for billers and coders in clinics and hospitals.

Once you have your training and certification, you are ready to go on the job market for your career as a medical biller and coder. Your degree program likely has contacts, information, and even internship opportunities to help you find your first position. A career as a medical biller and coder does require some preparation, but the rewards of a stable career are worth it.

SOURCES

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm