Healthcare is one of the few industries that remain impervious to the pressures of economy. It has long been lauded as a recession-proof sector and if the only reason you’re staying off a career in healthcare is because the sight of blood makes you uncomfortable, then worry not for you have no dearth of job options that involve little or no direct patient care.
One of them is medical billing and coding. Medical billers and coders are part of the health information technician team entrusted with specific responsibility of ensuring the services provided by physicians and other healthcare practitioners are properly reimbursed.
Although medical billing and coding is referred to as one occupation, the specific job role of a billing specialist is different from that of a medical coder. Medical coders assign standardized codes to the clinical procedures performed at a healthcare facility, whereas medical billing specialists deal with billing process and insurance claim procedures.
Medical Billing and Coding Careers
If you’re considering a medical billing and coding career, then there are two main paths you can choose from:
Outpatient coders: Professionals who code the records of patients that receive outpatient services in a healthcare center such as emergency rooms, clinics, etc.
Inpatient coders: They have the job of coding records of patients who are admitting to a hospital or any other healthcare facility.
But before you enter the medical billing and coding field, it’s important to know the employment landscape of this profession.The good news is that employment of medical billing and coding specialists is expected to grow at a much faster than average rate through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It projects that the employment of all health information technicians, including medical billing and coding specialists, will increase by a whopping 20 percent.1This growth in employment is likely to result from:
- Increase in the number of clinical procedures being performed in healthcare facilities.
- Increase in age-related health problems on account of high percentage of older population in the country.
- Need to fill vacancies created by health information technicians who retire or leave the profession.
Threats to Medical Coding – Real or Perceived?
Those who follow trends in the industry would probably know that a few recent (or not so recent) developments have led to the fear that the sun is setting on the medical coding and billing profession.
The first threat comes from the fact that a lot of medical billing and coding jobs are being outsourced to countries like India. While that may indeed be the case, but what’s also true is that outsourcing has not led to any significant decline in the demand for local talent as is obvious by the Department of Labor’s job projections.
The other threat to the medical billing and coding industry is posed by technological advancement or more specifically the development of the Electronic Health Record system. Though the EHR system has streamlined the way medical records are created, stored and maintained, professionals in the health information industry are feeling the heat from its widespread use.
But as of now, they have nothing to worry so far as the EHR system is concerned. The need of the hour is for them to add computer skills to their list of proficiencies when seeking employment.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has stated that job prospects will be particularly good for professionals with strong computer software skills as the EHR system will continue to broaden and alter their job responsibilities.
Medical Billing and Coding Training
Post-secondary training is essential for the job of a medical billing and coding specialist. This training can be received through a college degree or a vocational course at a career school. Interested individuals should prepare for their post-secondary training by taking courses in math, biology, chemistry, health sciences and computers in high school.
Once you are through with your medical billing and coding training, it may be worth your while to get certified through organizations like the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Getting certified is one way to enhance your job prospects.
The news is no less cheerful as far as medical billing and coding salary is concerned. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wages of health information technicians is $35,010.2
Nancy is a 35-year old stay at home mom of two. She worked as a medical assistant for five years before taking a break to be with her children. Her experience as a medical assistant gave her valuable insights in to the medical billing and coding industry, which she likes to share with others through her writing. Medical billing and coding programs often find mention in her writings. Her expertise in Medical billing and coding training stems from her extensive research on the subject.
Her other interests include gardening and baking. She stays in Cleveland, OH with her husband and two daughters.