17 Inpatient Coder Interview Questions and Answers

Learn what skills and qualities interviewers are looking for from an inpatient coder, what questions you can expect, and how you should go about answering them.

Inpatient coders are responsible for translating medical documentation into a universal medical code that is used to bill insurance companies for services provided to patients. This is a critical role in the healthcare industry, as accurate billing is essential to ensuring that medical providers are reimbursed for the services they provide.

Inpatient coders are also responsible for maintaining the integrity of the medical record. This means ensuring that all the information in the medical record is accurate and up-to-date. Inpatient coders must be able to work independently and have a strong attention to detail.

If you’re interested in becoming an inpatient coder, you’ll need to be prepared to answer some tough interview questions. In this guide, we’ll provide you with some tips on how to answer common inpatient coder interview questions. We’ll also provide you with a list of sample questions and answers that you can use to help you prepare for your interview.

Common Inpatient Coder Interview Questions

Are you certified as an inpatient coder?

Employers may ask this question to see if you have the necessary certification for the job. If you are not certified, they may want to know when you plan on getting your certification. They may also be looking for someone who is already certified and ready to start working.

Example: “I am currently pursuing my certification as an inpatient coder through the American Academy of Professional Coders. I should receive it by the end of next month, which will allow me to work immediately after graduation.”

What are some of the most common medical procedures you code for?

This question can help the interviewer get a better idea of your coding experience. You can use this opportunity to list some of the procedures you’ve coded for in the past and how often you performed them. This can show the interviewer that you have experience with similar cases and can apply what you learned from previous experiences to new ones.

Example: “In my last position, I primarily coded for emergency room visits, minor surgeries and hospitalizations. These were the most common medical procedures I encountered on a daily basis. In my previous role as an outpatient coder, however, I also coded for physical therapy sessions, diagnostic tests and doctor’s appointments.”

How would you respond if a patient’s diagnosis didn’t match the symptoms you observed?

This question can help interviewers assess your critical thinking skills and ability to make decisions. In your answer, you should explain how you would evaluate the diagnosis and determine if it’s accurate or not. You may also want to mention that you would contact a supervisor for guidance on how to proceed.

Example: “If I observed symptoms that didn’t match the patient’s diagnosis, I would first try to find out more information about the diagnosis from my notes or ask the doctor. If I still couldn’t find an explanation for the discrepancy, I would call my supervisor for advice on what to do next. Ultimately, I would follow their instructions and document any changes in the patient’s condition.”

What is the most challenging aspect of your job as an inpatient coder?

This question can help the interviewer understand what you find challenging and how you approach challenges. Your answer can also show the interviewer your problem-solving skills, attention to detail and ability to prioritize tasks.

Example: “The most challenging aspect of my job as an inpatient coder is when I have to code a patient’s visit for more than one diagnosis or procedure at once. This means that I need to be very thorough with each diagnosis and procedure so that I don’t miss anything. In these situations, I make sure to read through all of the documentation carefully before coding it. Then, I recheck everything after I code it to ensure accuracy.”

Provide an example of a time you had to research a rare disease to accurately code a patient’s diagnosis.

Inpatient coders often have to research rare diseases or conditions that they may not be familiar with. This question allows you to demonstrate your problem-solving skills and ability to learn new information quickly.

Example: “When I first started coding, I was unfamiliar with a disease called Guillain-Barre Syndrome. The patient had symptoms of the disease but also displayed some characteristics of multiple sclerosis. After researching both diseases, I determined that the patient’s diagnosis was actually Guillain-Barre Syndrome. I coded this as an inpatient condition because it required hospitalization for treatment.”

If a patient’s condition worsened while they were in the hospital, how would you update their diagnosis and procedures in the medical record?

This question is an opportunity to show your knowledge of coding and how it relates to patient care. When answering this question, make sure you explain the process clearly so that the interviewer can understand what you are saying.

Example: “If a patient’s condition worsened while they were in the hospital, I would first update their diagnosis code to reflect the new information. Then, I would update any procedure codes or modifiers that correspond with the new diagnosis. For example, if a patient was admitted for pneumonia but then developed sepsis, I would change the diagnosis from pneumonia to severe sepsis. After updating the diagnosis, I would update all related procedures to reflect the severity of the illness.”

What would you do if you noticed a physician entered a procedure code in the wrong column on a patient’s chart?

This question is an opportunity to show your attention to detail and ability to work with physicians. Your answer should demonstrate that you can be proactive in identifying errors, communicate effectively and solve problems.

Example: “I would first make sure the physician was aware of the error. Then I would correct the procedure code on the patient’s chart and ensure it was entered into the medical record system correctly. If the physician had already submitted a claim for the procedure, I would contact the insurance company to let them know about the correction. This ensures the insurance company has accurate information when processing claims and reduces any potential issues later.”

How well do you understand the nuances of different insurance companies and their requirements for medical coding?

Inpatient coders often work with a variety of insurance companies, and the interviewer may want to know that you have experience working with different coding requirements. Use your answer to highlight any specific knowledge or skills related to this question.

Example: “I’ve worked in several hospitals throughout my career, and I understand how important it is to be familiar with each insurance company’s unique coding requirements. For example, one hospital I worked at had a large patient base from one particular insurance provider, so we spent time training all our coders on their coding requirements. This helped us ensure that we were always submitting accurate claims for reimbursement.”

Do you have experience working with large data sets to identify patterns and trends in patient diagnoses?

Inpatient coders often work with large data sets to identify patterns and trends in patient diagnoses. This question allows the interviewer to assess your experience working with large amounts of data, as well as how you approach this type of task. Use examples from previous experiences to highlight your ability to manage large data sets and analyze information to make decisions.

Example: “In my last role, I worked on a team that coded all incoming patient records for our hospital. We had to be very thorough when coding each record because we were responsible for ensuring accurate diagnosis codes so the hospital could receive reimbursement from insurance companies. In my current role, I am still responsible for coding patient records but now have more time to review each record thoroughly before submitting it.”

When would you recommend a patient be discharged from the hospital?

This question can help the interviewer determine your knowledge of when a patient is ready to leave the hospital. Use examples from previous experiences where you helped patients get discharged and how it benefited them.

Example: “I once worked with a patient who was in the hospital for over two weeks because they were waiting on an organ transplant. I recommended that they be discharged as soon as possible so they could recover at home while waiting for their new organs. They agreed, and we got them discharged within a week. This allowed them to spend more time recovering at home before getting their new organs.”

We want to improve our discharge rate. What would you do to increase the number of patients who leave the hospital ready to resume their normal activities?

This question is an opportunity to show your problem-solving skills and ability to work as part of a team. Your answer should include steps you would take to improve the discharge rate, along with how you would communicate those changes to other members of the hospital staff.

Example: “I would first make sure that all patients are ready for discharge before they leave the hospital. I would also ensure that there’s someone available to help them once they get home. For example, if a patient needs physical therapy after leaving the hospital, I would make sure that their therapist was available when they were discharged so they could begin treatment immediately.”

Describe your process for ensuring all of the information in a patient’s medical records is accurate and up-to-date.

Inpatient coders are responsible for ensuring that all of the information in a patient’s medical records is accurate and up-to-date. This includes demographic information, insurance details, diagnosis codes and procedure codes. Interviewers ask this question to determine how you ensure accuracy when coding patient records. In your answer, explain what steps you take to confirm the accuracy of the information in each record.

Example: “I always start by reviewing the most recent documentation from physicians and nurses. I then compare it with previous notes and test results to make sure there haven’t been any changes or updates since the last time the patient was coded. If there have been no changes, I will code the record according to the previously assigned codes. If there have been changes, I will update the codes accordingly.”

What makes you an ideal candidate for this inpatient coder position?

Employers ask this question to learn more about your qualifications and how you can contribute to their team. Before your interview, make a list of reasons why you are the best candidate for this role. Consider highlighting any relevant experience or skills that match what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate.

Example: “I am passionate about helping patients receive quality care while also ensuring hospitals stay within budget. I have extensive knowledge of coding procedures and medical terminology, which makes me well-equipped to accurately code patient records. My attention to detail is another skill that helps me perform my job efficiently and effectively.”

Which coding system do you have the most experience using?

Inpatient coders often have experience using a variety of coding systems. The interviewer may ask this question to see if you are familiar with the system they use at their facility. Before your interview, research the coding system that the hospital uses and describe how much experience you have using it. If you don’t have any experience with the coding system used by the hospital, explain which coding system you are most comfortable using.

Example: “I’ve worked in two different hospitals where we used ICD-9 and CPT coding systems. At my current job, we use HCPCS codes for our billing purposes. I am very comfortable working with all three coding systems.”

What do you think is the most important aspect of a medical professional’s job?

This question is a great way to determine how much the candidate values their work and what they think about the medical field in general. It also gives you an idea of whether or not they are passionate about working as a coder. When answering this question, it’s important to show that you understand the role of a medical professional and why coding is so important for the healthcare industry.

Example: “I believe the most important aspect of a medical professional’s job is providing quality care to patients. I know that without accurate coding, hospitals would have no way of knowing which procedures were performed on patients and how much money should be reimbursed by insurance companies. This information is vital for ensuring that hospitals can continue to provide excellent patient care.”

How often do you think physicians should update their medical records?

This question can help interviewers understand your knowledge of the medical record system and how you might work with physicians. In your answer, try to explain why it’s important for physicians to update their records regularly and what steps they should take to do so.

Example: “Physicians should update their patient records as soon as possible after a visit or procedure. This helps ensure that all information is accurate and up-to-date. If there are any changes in medications or procedures, I recommend updating the record within 24 hours. It’s also helpful if physicians include notes about the visit or procedure in the record, which can be useful when reviewing the record later.”

There is a discrepancy in a patient’s diagnosis. How would you resolve the issue?

Inpatient coders often work with medical records that have discrepancies. An interviewer may ask you this question to see how you would resolve a discrepancy in the patient’s diagnosis and ensure accurate coding. To answer, think of a time when you resolved a discrepancy in a patient’s diagnosis. Explain your process for resolving the issue and highlight your attention to detail.

Example: “I once worked on a case where there was a discrepancy in the patient’s diagnosis. The physician had written one diagnosis but coded it as another. I double-checked the documentation to make sure I understood what the physician meant. Then, I discussed the situation with the physician. He explained that he wrote the wrong diagnosis by mistake. We then corrected the diagnosis and coded it correctly.”


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