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 ?
- 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.
- 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 .
- 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
- 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 rejected||Investigating 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?
- Hospitals, Specialty Clinics, Doctor’s offices require medical coders to document patient information and assign codes to process billing and insurance claims.
- 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.,
- Insurance agencies recruit medical coders to review the accuracy of the incoming claims and catch errors.
- 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.
- Opportunities for Medical coders to work as independent contractors are also on rise in the recent days.
- 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.
- CPC – The Certified Professional Coder (CPC) accredited by the American Academy of Professional Coders.
- CCS – The Certified Coding Specialist accredited by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA),
- 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:
- 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
11. How to prepare for the Medical Coding Certifications ?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.,)