Career Development

What Does a Medical Coder Do?

Find out what a medical coder does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a medical coder.

Medical coders are responsible for translating the information from a patient’s medical record into an insurance claim. They use their knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and disease processes to assign codes to various procedures and diagnoses. These codes are used by insurers to determine how much they will pay for services rendered.

Medical Coder Job Duties

A medical coder typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Reviewing patient medical records to identify any errors made by previous coders
  • Reading physicians’ orders, discharge instructions, and other correspondence from healthcare providers to ensure that the proper procedures are being followed
  • Creating codes for diagnoses and procedures performed during hospital stays or outpatient visits based on physician orders, insurance claims forms, and other sources of information
  • Consulting with physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical staff to ensure that the correct codes are used for diagnoses and procedures
  • Consulting with physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical staff to ensure accuracy in medical records
  • Communicating with insurance companies regarding coverage policies and resolving billing disputes
  • Researching medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology to ensure accurate use of codes in charts and records
  • Identifying errors in coding or filing procedures and consulting with supervisors to ensure that changes are made
  • Reviewing medical records to determine if services were provided or diagnoses given CHAPTER 2

Medical Coder Salary & Outlook

Medical coders’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location.

  • Median Annual Salary: $52,500 ($25.24/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $80,500 ($38.7/hour)

The employment of medical coders is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade.

As healthcare providers continue to adopt electronic health records (EHRs), demand for medical coders will increase because these systems require coders to assign codes to medical procedures and diagnoses. In addition, as hospitals and other healthcare facilities consolidate, more coders will be needed to work in larger facilities.

Medical Coder Job Requirements

A medical coder typically needs to have the following qualifications:

Education: Medical coders are typically required to have a minimum of an associate degree or a certificate from a technical or vocational school. Some employers prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in a health-related field. Courses in anatomy, biology, physiology and medical terminology are helpful for aspiring medical coders.

Training & Experience: Medical coders receive most of their training through their education and on-the-job training. During their education, students learn the basics of medical coding, including how to use medical coding software, how to code medical records and how to use the ICD-10 coding system. Students also learn how to use medical terminology and how to use the medical classification system.

When medical coders begin working for a hospital or medical facility, they receive additional training to learn the specific processes and procedures of the facility. They also receive training on the specific software the facility uses.

Certifications & Licenses: While certifications are not required to become a medical coder, they can help candidates demonstrate their competency and increase their earning potential.

Medical Coder Skills

Medical coders need the following skills in order to be successful:

Medical terminology: Medical coders must have a thorough understanding of medical terminology. This is because they must be able to decipher medical records that are written in medical terminology. Medical coders can learn medical terminology by taking a medical terminology course or by reading medical textbooks.

Communication skills: Medical coders often work in teams with other medical professionals, so communication skills are important for interacting with others. Medical coders also communicate with patients and other medical staff, so they need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively.

Attention to detail: Medical coders must have excellent attention to detail to ensure they accurately enter the correct information into the medical records system. Attention to detail can also help them identify any errors in the medical records system and correct them.

Knowledge of medical software programs: Medical coders use various software programs to complete their work. Medical software programs can include billing software, patient management software and other software programs that help medical facilities run efficiently. Medical coders should have a basic understanding of the various software programs used in the medical industry.

Ability to work under pressure: Medical coders often work in fast-paced environments where they may be required to work overtime or on weekends. This is because the health care industry is constantly changing and medical records are often incomplete or out of order. Medical coders who work under pressure are able to prioritize their work and complete it in a timely manner.

Medical Coder Work Environment

Medical coders work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, and insurance companies. They typically work full time, and some may work evenings or weekends to keep up with the demands of the job. Medical coders typically work in clean, well-lit, and comfortable office environments. They may be required to sit for long periods of time, and they may have to stoop, kneel, or bend when retrieving files. They may also be required to lift heavy boxes of files.

Medical Coder Trends

Here are three trends influencing how medical coders work. Medical coders will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Telemedicine

The growth of telemedicine is a trend that is quickly changing the medical industry. With the help of technology, patients can now receive medical care from doctors without ever having to leave their home.

This trend is creating new opportunities for medical coders, who are needed to code medical records for patients who have received care through telemedicine. Coders will need to be familiar with the coding systems used in telemedicine and be able to accurately record patient information.

More Use of Electronic Health Records

As electronic health records (EHRs) become more popular, medical coders will need to learn how to use them effectively.

EHRs allow medical professionals to keep track of patient information in an electronic format, which makes it easier to share data between different healthcare providers. As EHRs become more common, medical coders will need to be familiar with how to use them in order to code patient information correctly.

Greater Focus on Patient Safety

As hospitals and clinics focus on patient safety, medical coders will need to be aware of new regulations and procedures.

Medical coders play a critical role in ensuring that patient information is accurate and up-to-date. In order to do this, they need to be familiar with the latest regulations and procedures that are put in place to protect patients. This includes knowing where to find important documents and how to access patient records quickly.

How to Become a Medical Coder

A medical coder career can be a great way to start your coding journey. It’s a good place to learn the basics of coding and get familiar with the healthcare industry.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that this is not a long-term career path. Most medical coders only work in this field for a few years before moving on to other things. So if you want to become a medical coder, make sure that you also have plans for what you will do after your coding career ends.

Related: How to Write a Medical Coder Resume

Advancement Prospects

Medical coders can advance their careers by becoming certified in their field. Certification demonstrates to employers that the coder has the knowledge and skills necessary to do the job. There are several organizations that offer certification for medical coders, including the American Health Information Management Association and the Board of Medical Specialty Coding. In order to become certified, coders must pass an exam.

Medical coders can also advance their careers by taking on more responsibility at work. For example, they may be promoted to lead medical coder or supervisor. Those who are interested in management may become managers of coding departments. With further education, medical coders can also become health information technicians or health information managers.

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