Medical Coder

What is a Medical Coder? 

A medical coder is a professional who takes information on diagnosis, treatment, tests, and procedures from medical notes and translates them into codes using universal coding systems. These codes tell insurers clearly what is being billed. A medical coder must have a good understanding of anatomy, physiology and common illness as well as medical terminology. 

Job Responsibilities

Medical coders work in many environments, such as hospitals, clinics, and long-term care facilities. While this may mean that some coders become more specialized in their work, most coders have the following responsibilities: 

  • Read and analyze patient records, including doctors’ notes, orders for tests and prescriptions 
  • Review patient information for preexisting conditions, such as diabetes, so patient data can be coded properly 
  • Assign appropriate diagnoses and procedure codes for patient care, population health statistics, and billing purposes 
  • Manage detailed, specifically coded information 
  • Interact with physicians and assistants to ensure accuracy of codes 
  • Work as a liaison between the healthcare providers and billing offices 
  • Maintain patient confidentiality and information security 

Career Outlook for Medical Coders 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that employment of medical records specialists is projected to grow 8 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.  

About 15,000 openings for medical records specialists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire. 

 An increasing share of the population is entering older age groups, which typically require more medical services. In addition, there is a growing prevalence of heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. As a result, more medical records specialists will be needed to translate patient information and services delivered into standardized codes to be used for insurance reimbursement and other purposes. 

What can I do with a Medical Reimbursement and Coding Associate Degree? 

A medical reimbursement and coding associate degree from Bryant & Stratton College will prepare you for a career in medical coding. You will be ready for an entry-level position as a medical coder for any number of businesses within the healthcare industry. Examples include private practices, hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and insurance providers. 

This degree program conforms to the standards by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Having completed this degree program, you will be prepared to take the industry preferred AHIMA Certified Coding Specialist certification. 

You will learn to carry out medical coding, billing, transcription, data processing and record keeping. You will gain an understanding of medical terminology, as well as the structure and organization of the body’s systems. Further, you will learn about common pharmacological treatments. 

After completing this program, you will be able to use protocols specific to diagnostically coding illnesses, injury, and medical services for patients receiving healthcare services in hospitals and physician practices. You will understand the concept and theory of diagnostic and procedural coding in physician and hospital environments. 

Since most medical coding positions require an associate degree, this tailored program should be just what you need to set you on the path to your chosen career as a medical coder. 

Additional Training/Requirements

Medical coders are always continuing their education. The consult each other, meet on online forums, and even go to national conferences to keep their skills honed. Ongoing training is available. Also, there are coding-related periodicals that medical coders can read to keep their knowledge up-to-date.  And, there is always room for advancement. For instance, you could become a coding auditor as well. 

Employment Settings for Medical Coders 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most medical records specialists work full time. In healthcare facilities that are always open, such as hospitals, specialists may work shifts, including nights or weekends. Medical records specialists typically spend many hours at a computer. 

For insights into a career as a medical coder, please visit the Healthcare Degrees section of our blog. Here you will find valuable information about a career as a medical coder as well as remote coding opportunities. 

While these projections can help career-minded people evaluate potential employment fields, it is important to note that job market data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook is only intended to provide insight on occupational opportunities. It should not be construed as a guarantee of salary or job title. Neither BLS nor Bryant & Stratton College can guarantee employment in any field.

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