4 Reasons Why Medical Coding Is A Promising Career

4 Reasons Why Medical Coding Is A Promising Career

1. Vital Service yet with Lower Stress

Health care sector like any other sector has undergone drastic changes. Surge of healthcare customers on one hand and increased expectation of quality and efficient healthcare service on other hand, has made the medical coding and billing occupation crucial.

Medical coders and biller by assigning appropriate codes to medical procedures ensure that the healthcare providers receives appropriate compensation, while helping the patient to receive the right benefit from the insurance companies.

Without this profession, healthcare providers may not be reimbursed or incur hefty fines  or face competitive disadvantage due to insufficient patient care.

Moreover if you want to work in medical field without getting into the dire business of dealing with blood, medical coding and billing is definitely a wise choice.  As a medical coder or biller you are away from clinical visits or direct contact with patients, yet provide them this essential service while dealing with medical professionals and enjoy a rewarding career in healthcare. Most of the time of medical coder and biller will be spent in computers, assigning codes, organizing and reviewing statements and bills , ensuring accuracy and quality.

2. Quick Turnaround yet with Lucrative Salary

Most medical professions usually require numerous years of education that requires high investment. To become a medical coder, it does not takes years and years of study. Most of the medical coding training programs are only for 3-6 months. In less than a year, one can become a certified medical coder. Medical Coding courses in Dubai  are on the rise , that one can sign up to kick start their medical coding career.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median medical billing and coding salary in the United States is $44,090. According to Economic Research Institute The average salary range for a Medical Coder is between in UAE ranges between  AED 100,671 and AED 165,250 per annum.

Post Pandemic trend for medical coding and billing profession is positive. New Medical Coding and Medical Billing vacancies are added almost every day in UAE and the opportunities are bright particularly for certified coders.

However certified professionals with experience earn more.

According to the 2020 Healthcare Salary Survey:

  • Coders with one certification earn an average of $57,646 per year
  • Those with two certifications earn an average of $63,085 per year
  • Those with three or more credentials earn an average of $68,589 per year

3. Advancing Career yet with Stable Tenure

The field of medical coding is increasing at a faster rate, which is expected to grow up to 15 % in 2024.Besides there are many paths one can take in the medical coding career.

One can take entry level position like physician coder, Insurance claims specialist, collection specialist, risk adjustment coder, medical records clerk.

After gaining few years of experience in entry level position, one can opt intermediate level positions such as Coding supervisor, specialty coder, coding educator, coding auditor, Quality controller.

Professionals can further advance their career in management and leadership positions.

In the middle management level , one can grow to become Coding Manager, Compliance Auditor, Revenue Cycle Manager, Fraud Investigator . Further at a senior leadership level, one can assume bigger roles such as Coding Director, HIM Director, Operations Director. Hence medical coding with its diversified opportunities is a stable and a long term career.

Certified Medical coders with one or more generic certifications such AAPC’s CPC ( Certified Professional Coder), AHIMA’s CCS ( Certified Coding Specialist)  and specialty certifications such as medical coding for cardiology, Ambulatory surgical center, Dermatology, Ophthalmology, Urology etc., are more in demand. The demand and supply gap for certified medical coders is approximately 40% and has increased significantly over the last year.

Many institutes offer medical coding courses in Dubai that facilitates both the novice and experienced medical coders to climb the next level in the profession

You could also work as a medical biller and coder and use your knowledge of medical terminology and the healthcare system to help as you return to school to earn a degree in data management, nursing, and even pre-med and beyond.

Also increased automation in medical coding or billing is not a threat but an opportunity. Human intervention like definitely required as interpretations are required in the grey areas, as every interaction between a provider and patient is unique. Demand for specialty coders is on the rise

It has also opened new positions software developers for medical coding , project managers with medical coding knowledge, trainers, consultants etc.,

Healthcare is one of the sectors that has always been immune to economic downturn. This applies to medical coding and billing as well , as it is key to the smooth functioning of the revenue cycle in the healthcare sector

Many countries , particularly the economically advanced countries viz., US, Japan, China, UK see rising aging population. An aging population will mean more claims need to be submitted for reimbursement from insurance companies as more medical care is provided. Hence the demand for medical coders & billers is not expected to slow down in the near future.

4. Flexibility yet with Predictable Work Hours

Most healthcare jobs require the professionals to work long hours work during weekends or holidays. But in case of medical coding or billing, it  generally requires you to work only stipulated time like 8 to 9 hours a day. Besides hospitals, Medical coders and Billers are employed by government agencies, insurance agencies, educational institutions. Some medical coding professionals work in software companies to aid medical software development projects. These diversified professions increasingly employ medical coders and billers to work remotely from home. In such cases you are allowed to work on flexible timings yet with predictable schedule as long as the deadlines are met.

Recently there is a surge in remotely working medical coders and billers, as pandemic have led to the development in communication technology that gives more controllability and manageability over virtual workers.

Moreover the concept of telemedicine have led to increased access to health care, which in turn have opened new doors to medical coders or billers. Virtual Medicare or Telemedicine is transforming the health care environment. With change come challenges as well and to accommodate these changes, medical coding has undergone numerous updates in codes, reimbursement policies etc.,

These changes have increased the demand for expert medical coders who identify different denials, consultants who train the coding and billing team members, clinicians and who document at the point of service on the new updates. These professionals generally provides their services remotely.

FAQs on Medical Coding

FAQs on Medical Coding

1. What Is Medical Coding and What does Medical Coders do ?

Medical coding is the process of  translating important medical information into simple alphanumeric codes for the purpose of documenting medical records and medical billing accurately.

A medical coder is, in essence, a translator. Medical coders are responsible for carefully reviewing the patient’s file and translates everything from diagnosis to treatment from that file into universal alphanumerical codes required by insurance companies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) categorizes medical coders under “Medical Records and Health Information Technicians.”

2. Why Medical Coding service is required ?

When a medical service provider examines and treats a patient, the insurance company or the government provider requires to comprehend what were the medical procedures done in order to process the bill. Common language is not adequate to give the insurance company the accurate details it requires , therefore a set of specific codes has been established.

It’s the role of the medical coder to delve deep into patient data, diagnoses, medications, procedures, treatments, and transforms every bit of information into alphanumeric codes.

3.What kind of knowledge and skills are required to become a Medical Coder ?

  1. Knowledge on Medical Terminologies and Clinical Anatomy : A medical coder assign codes to represent different aspects in health care such as diagnoses, conditions and illnesses , medical procedures medications and equipment used. Hence sound knowledge in the above said elements are required understand the clinical documentation in order to apply right ICD and CPT Guidelines.
  2. Computer Skills : Organizations use various software applications and therefore it is essential for medical coders to be proficient in navigating these tools starting from generic applications like Microsoft office to specific medical coding applications like Epic, Centricity, AdvancedMD, Flash Code, Eclipse etc.,  It is also essential to have good typing speed .
  3. Meticulous and Organized :Attentive to details is a critical skill required for medical coders as error rate. Assignment of inapt alphanumeric codes can cause significant problems. Inaccurate assignment may lead to rejection of claims from the insurers or too little repayment. Medical coders will also juggle between various documents and reports during their work, therefore organization skills also play a key role
  4. Knowledge on Ethical standards :Medical coding professional will have access to patient’s private information. A Medical coder should adhere to policies and legal requirements regarding privacy, confidentiality, disclosure and security  of patient information. Hence its essential for the medical coder to have a good knowledge about local and international code of ethical standards and professional conduct ( e.g., Code of Ethics stated by AHIMA, AAPC, DHA etc.,)

4. How Medical coding is different from Medical billing ?

Although these two roles require many overlapping skillsets ,there are stark differences between these two professions. Following table elucidated the differences in their roles and responsibilities.

Medical Coding Medical Billing
Medical coding focuses more specifically on patient medical records, categorize the services and medications  and accurately  code

 

Involved in calculating, processing and submitting patients’ medical claims to insurance companies and government agencies for services rendered to the patient.
Applying CPT, ICD-10 CM, HCPCS standardized codes to patient records.Developing payment plan , prepare invoice ,follow up with patients, healthcare professionals, insurance companies and ensure the claims are paid accurately and quickly.
Perform medical chart audits when a claim is rejectedInvestigating rejected claims, verifying accuracy of standard healthcare codes applied by medical coders

5. Can a Non-Medical student or Non-Life Science student pursue Medical Coding career ?

Of course. Medical coding job is everyone as long as, one is well versed with the terminologies, standard and the process. Hence enrolling for a medical coding training and earning a certification will help one to kick start their career.

6. How is the demand and earnings for Medical Coder or Medical Biller in UAE ?

The medical coding market was valued at USD 15,259.67 million in 2020, and it is expected to reach USD 28,363.63 million by 2026, registering a CAGR of 10.93%, during the forecast period (Source: Medical Coding Market – Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts 2022 – 2027 )

Post Pandemic trend for medical coding and billing profession is positive. New Medical Coding and Medical Billing vacancies are added almost every day in UAE and the opportunities are bright particularly for certified coders. A person working as a Medical Coder in United Arab Emirates typically earns around 13,500 AED per month. Salaries range from 6,330 AED (lowest) to 21,300 AED (highest).

7. What kind of organizations hire Medical Coders and What are their career choices?

  1. Hospitals, Specialty Clinics, Doctor’s offices require medical coders to document patient information and assign codes to process billing and insurance claims.
  2. Health care Consulting Services requires medical coding professionals in variety of roles such as , to extract data from clinical documentation to assign codes, to conduct audits to prevent coding errors, troubleshooting or improving systems, contribute to IT projects to create healthcare software products etc.,
  3. Insurance agencies recruit medical coders to review the accuracy of the incoming claims and catch errors.
  4. Law firms often hire healthcare information specialists with a good medical coding knowledge to find coding discrepancies to determine whether the discrepancies have led to billing fraud.
  5. Opportunities for Medical coders to work as independent contractors are also on rise in the recent days.
  6. Educational institutions requires medical coding professional to train the next generation medical coders.

8. Can a medical coder work from home ?

Yes. A Medical coder can work from home as many organizations outsource their work or enables the professionals to work as independent contractors. According to the Health Information Management (HIM) Professional Census 2020, more than 50% of coders are fully remote now, and only 17% are entirely on-site. Presumably, the remaining 33% have a hybrid arrangement with their employer. Training and International certification in Medical coding assures credibility in the market and gains you more reputable clients.

9. Is it possible to get a Medical coding job without experience ?

Large Healthcare consulting service providers often Coders at various levels right from entry levels. Many Smaller organizations require entry level assistants for experienced Medical coders. To become a Medical coder with no experience, it is essential to acquire formal education like an associate degree or diploma in medical coding  or short-term training in medical coding and transcription. Attaining Medical coding certifications is a shorter route and   will help you get ahead of the competition. Certifications are well recognized  particularly in UAE.

10. What are the certifications in demand for Medical Coding ?

Global certifications in Medical coding offers many benefits like greater employability, higher pay, remote work opportunities, professional connections etc., Following are the Best  3 certifications in terms of global recognition.

  1. CPC – The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) accredited by the American Academy of Professional Coders.
  2. CCS – The Certified Coding Specialist accredited by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA),
  3. CBCS – Certified Billing and Coding Specialist accredited by the National Health career Association (NHA)

Most of the certifications requires renewal by continued education, thus guarantees the employer that the holder is updated in the field.
According to the 2020 Healthcare Salary Survey:

  1. Coders with one certification earn an average of $57,646 per year
  2. Those with two certifications earn an average of $63,085 per year
  3. Those with three or more credentials earn an average of $68,589 per year

11. How to prepare for the Medical Coding Certifications ?

  1. Choose your certification: Based on the recognition for that certification locally and your current level of experience ( Many certifications do not require experience ) and interest choose the certification. Starters can go for generic ones rather than specialized ones.
  2. Take a Formal Training: Many Certification requires a good knowledge on the Medical Terminologies, Procedures and Medications and the assignment of ICD, CPT and HCPCS Codes. Hence it is essential to go for a formal training on Medical coding. Choose a training program that covers the certification exam content.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice : Passing a Certification ( like CPC, CCS) are not very easy. It requires thorough knowledge, speed and great level of practicing the scenarios. For this reason, certification holders are preferred over degree holders.
  4. Schedule and Pass the Exam:Many learners fail to sit for the exam due to lack of confidence and fear of failure. Work towards an end date for your preparation. With a good preparation and support, you can clear the exam. One last word, pursue the second attempt, if you fail in the first attempt. After all success is a result of hard work and perseverance.
  5. Earn More than one certification : If you are experienced medical coder , expand your domain by earning more than one certification for example in advanced or specialty coding ( dental coding, Neurology coding etc.,)

Project Management 2022 and Beyond

Project Management 2022 and Beyond
Ranging from AI to EI

As we kick off 2022, COVID-19 saga with its novel variants continues to throttle traditional working environment and challenges organizations to explore new ways to sustain and required them to adapt to changes in technological, economic and social domains.  Project Management Landscape is of no exception and this volatile situation have presented both challenges and opportunities to project based organizations and its employees.

Here are some highlights of the most impactful changes Organizations and Project Management Professionals face in 2022 and beyond and top skills in demand that to counter them:

#1 Rise of Remote Work space Demands Virtual Leadership Skills

The Wuhan Virus has broken through cultural and technological barriers that prevented remote work in the past and has led to structural shift in project team’s workplace. Despite the array of issues raised due to remote working in the beginning of 2020, soon the organizations understood both the advantages and limitations of letting the employees work from home.

Organizations broadened the options and identified the right mix of remote and office-based work based on need of job to counter the limitations while reaping the benefits like tapping into subject matter experts world over, higher productivity, saving cost on facilities, transportation etc.,

Source: Musienko, Yuri.Dec 2021. Merehead, www.merehead.com/blog/project-management-trends-2022/

On the other hand, employees, especially ones who are involved in creative work relished the flexibility that remote working conditions provided them. Being free from external irritants, (long hours on road, noise, visits of other employees etc.,) enabled them to work efficiently resulting in higher productivity. 

In the APM Salary and Market Trends survey 2020, 66% of respondents reported flexible working was an important criterion for how they chose their job.  

Virtual Leadership skills will become one of the top skills in demand for future Project Managers. Virtual Leadership provides practical strategies, tools and solutions for the key issues such as isolated and disengaged workforce, ineffective communication, uncoordinated and counter productivity involved in managing at a distance and create cohesive teams across distance, cultures and languages

#2 Next Gen Project Management Information System (PMIS) Demands Digital skills  

The project, program and portfolio management (PPM) software landscape is rapidly changing PMIS includes all the platforms, software and tools that help managers and teams plan, coordinate, and execute every aspect of project or program and portfolio planning and management. The top 5 techno-themes for the future of Project management are Block Chain, Artificial intelligence, Mobile apps, Remote access, Human Machine Collaboration 

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence – AI Systems are increasingly finding its way into project management tools to monitor and analyze the patterns of project team. Integration of AI systems with popular tools like Slack, JIRA aids to optimize processes. Not-too-distant future AI Bots will soon handle less intensive administrative tasks freeing up project managers time to available for team and focus on more value-added activities. 

Block Chain 

Increasing demand for Project Managers with Digital Skills to suit an overarching digital strategy is seen. 

The Block chain Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) will protect the project data, eliminate single-point of failure, enable single source of truth. This will greatly help in investigating discrepancies and disputes with external stakeholders such as clients and contractors. 

Mobile Apps  

Mobility is no longer a nice-to-have feature but a necessity. Project Managers can keep track of teams, tasks and deadlines on the go. Mobile apps have sealed the huge gap between available data and accessible data. 

Human Machine Collaboration:

Post Covid, organizations are reconsidering the structure and composition of work force, reinventing jobs, realizing power of Artificial Intelligence. According to Deloitte, 41% of surveyed companies have already implemented aspects of cognitive or artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in their workforce, whilst 37% are carrying out pilot programmes. However, only 17% of surveyed executives stated a readiness to manage a collaborative workforce of people, robots and AI.Robots and People work side by side complementing and compensating each other’s limitations.  Autonomation – the concept of human- machine collaboration – provides benefits of automation while protecting the irreplaceable human skills such as empathy, persuasion, courteousness, negotiation, problem-solving, and strategic decision-making. 

Remote Access and Cyber security:

Remote teams confront challenges that co-located teams do not, such as asynchronous time zones and work flow. As the usage of remote project management and team collaboration tools rise, there is a growing emphasis on data security. Project Manager being responsible for overseeing project risks, it is the onus of the project manager to identify, evaluate and manage potential security threats and protect sensitive project data. Cyber Incident Planning and Response is therefore will be a in demand skill for project manager of any industry.

#3 Hybrid Methodology – Seems to Stay  

The combination of co-located and distributed teams have triggered another significant change in the way projects are managed – Hybrid Project Management (Hybrid of Waterfall and Agile). 

Almost the whole of the 20th century was dominated by the predictive or waterfall model of project management. Project Managers regardless of their industry, were used to creating WBS, Gantt charts etc., tools that aids the project manager to plan in detail in the beginning.  

In the starting of 21st century with the rise of software projects, agile gained traction. Agile is seen as a magic bullet to solve waterfall problems such as meticulous processes, restrictive procedures and inadaptability to rapid market changes. Frequent smaller deliveries and continuous stakeholder influence throughout the project helps to accommodate requirement changes without derailing the project. 

Yet soon it was realized that agile is not panacea, as it does not suit projects that requires absolute estimates and managing constraints like strict schedule or budget. 

Consequently, Hybrid project management approach picked up steam that combines the best of both the worlds. With hybrid approach, project boundaries are defined upfront with accurate estimates as in the waterfall – where execution and delivery through several iterations as Minimum Viable Products are delivered.  

Global trends in project management survey of projectmanager.com 2022 found that only 12 % of PMs rely solely on the agile project management methodology, nearly 60% of respondents said that they use either a hybrid of waterfall and agile or many styles within a single project.

Hybrid methodology that combines both structure and flexibility requiring continuous stakeholder collaboration will be a new normal in 2022 and beyond.

Source: Global Trends in Project Management 2022 https://learn.projectmanager.com/global-trends-in-pm-2022

#4 Greater Emphasis on Soft Skills  

Growing importance of EI (Emotional Intelligence) albeit the intrusion of AI (Artificial Intelligence) sounds paradoxical but a natural inclination. As more and more technology enter project management, much of the mundane administrative and data analytical tasks of the project manager will be automated and make project manager available for the team. This has and will continue to increase the need for emotionally intelligent project managers.

Skills like empathy, persuasion, critical thinking, conflict resolution, motivation will become even more important. Time and again it is proved that the leader’s attitude is contagious and he/ she sets the tempo for team’s attitudinal norms. The quote “The ‘P’ in PM is as much about ‘People’ management as it is about ‘Project’ management,” will be more relevant than ever. Knowing this trend, many organizations have already started investing in developing these capabilities.   

Concluding thoughts 

Talent landscape has always been gradually changing in the past. But the virus outbreak from Beijing has zoomed up this change. While we still continue to fight the pandemic, we should continue to reinvent our project management practices and team’s workplace and prepare it for the next disruption. The good news is that there are plenty of tacit and explicit knowledge available out there, through different modes ranging synchronous-online to self-paced videos, to help you build the new project management skills. Whether novice or experienced, it is essential to keep abreast of the trend, restructure priorities to stay relevant with the new paradigms else ‘Everything will roll back to zero’.

Author : Durgadevi Padmanaban PMP, CSSGB, CSSBB

Project Management Office (PMO) and its Models – An Overview

Many organizations in spite of the increased number and complexity of projects implement projects that are not managed according to a formal project management methodology and instead apply ad-hoc processes even today that results in weak outcomes.

Seeking to solve this problem emerges a new structure called Project Management Office (PMO) in order to bring centralized coordination, strategic alignment, institutionalize project management practices, improve execution and reduce wasteful resources. The Project Management Office (PMO) is a group or department within an enterprise facilitate project success through standardizing projects, implementing best practice, mitigating project management risks, supporting effective project delivery. Effective and sustainable PMOs evidently are pivotal success factors and makes profound impact on the successful delivery of projects. This document gives an overview of various models and working mechanics of PMO, approach to designing and setting up a PMO, aligning and integrating within the organization.

Potential Goals of PMO

  • Better alignment of project activity and business strategy and investments.
  • Consistent adherence to a project management process and methodology.
  • Improved collaboration and knowledge and best-practice sharing.
  • Resource pool readiness, training and competency to meet evolving business needs.
  • Optimized resource utilization and capacity management.
  • Executive visibility to project, status, issues, risks, costs
Degree of Influence of PMO

There’s no one-size-fits-all PMO. They perform wide spectrum of activities based on degree of influence, organizational exposure or organization’s maturity in project management. The survey conducted in 2007 by Hobbs and Aubry, of 500 PMOs found considerable diversity and lack of consensus regarding the roles and terms that should be included in the structure of a PMO.

The descriptions of PMOs in the literature are often summarized in typologies comprising few models. There are more than 40 models in the literature. However, names and functions are common among multiple models. The most common typologies have three to five types, in which each type is a model of a PMO. The following three type model based on degree of control is often seen widely used by practitioners while designing their PMO.

The degree of control and influence that PMOs have on projects depend on the type of PMO structure within the enterprise; it can be:

  1. Supportive, with a consultative role
  2. Controlling, by requiring compliance
  3. Directive, by taking control and managing the projects

Degree of Influence of PMO

Enterprises based on the business need analysis and strategic goal of the client organization identifies and implement the required management structure.

In literature the above PMO model is in align with Englund, Graham & Dinsmore (2003) model.

Englund, Graham & Dinsmore (2003) [18] propose three PMO models.

The first, Project Support Office, provides internal consulting for project management activities, such as planning and scheduling, project management tools, and document management.

The second, Project Management Center of Excellence (PMCOE), includes functions aimed

more at assuring up-to-date methodologies and skills in project management, such as standardization of processes, identification of best practices, and training.

The third is Program Management Office, which promotes complete authority over the projects and responsibility for recruiting and developing project managers, project selection, and alignment of priorities with the business strategies.

It is also worthy to note that PMO evolves within the organization, indicative of the organization’s project management maturity. Along the competency continuum The PMO’s role

PMO Stages

PMO Implementation Roadmap

The overview and deliverables of the five phases of PMO implementation roadmap and their deliverables are outlined below with a greater brevity.

Phases of setting up PMO

 

Phase

Description

 

Deliverables

1.Assessment and Strategy

 

Perform gap analysis to assess organizations current status of project management maturity.

 

 

Current State Assessment

PMO Strategy Proposal

Critical Success Factors (CSF)

2.Project Initiation

Setting up of a PMO will be formalized

 

 

 

PMO Mission, Vision and Statement

Business Case

PMO Charter

Roadmap milestones and Rollout Schedule

PMO resources

PMO services catalogue

3.PMO Development

Resources assigned, develop methodology, processes, tools and key artifacts.

 

 

 

Project Management Procedures

PMO Handbook

Project Governance Framework

Training Plan and Execution

4.Staged Implementation

Identifying and Launching Pilot Projects, Ensure Compliance

PMO Orientation

PMO Pilot Launch

PMO Metrics collection and status reporting

Lessons Learned Documentation

5.Continuous Improvement

Measuring PMO Effectiveness, implementing changes, overall capability assessment, develop long term plan

Project management Maturity Assessment

Monthly/quarterly PMO report

Aligning performance measures and Reward systems.

Creating a best fit PMO is only the first step but organizations often fail in making PMOs generate sustainable value.

Sustainable PMOs are resilient, future-ready to face new challenges, focus on value delivery agile and strategically aligned. Also, PMO for its effective operation, have to be equipped with comprehensive Management Information Systems (PMIS) that facilitate data collection, storage, access, analysis, and dissemination.