What is Medical Coding?
If you think that only doctors and nurses make the important healthcare decisions, think again. Though you might never see a medical coder in action, medical coding plays a key role in healthcare by documenting timely and accurate data which becomes part of a patient's medical record and allows for prompt payment of healthcare services.
The history of medical coding dates back to the mid 1900s when it was realized that the health care industry needed to develop a standardized approach to tracking the diagnosis and treatment of patients as well as provide uniform standards for the purposes of billing insurance companies for health services.
Medical coding involves assigning a numeric or alphanumeric code to a diagnosis, procedure or treatment. It allows for an easy, fast and accurate retrieval of information for review of the patient's record and medical billing. Also medical coding is critical in collecting data to conduct health studies, evaluate patient outcomes and in health care planning.
What it takes to be good in medical coding?
To be successful in medical coding, an individual needs strong organizational skills, the ability to give attention to detail, and be able to maintain confidentiality as medical coders handle vast amounts of very personal information contained in the medical records of patients.
Certification is voluntary but can help to give credibility to your knowledge and your job skills. The American Health Information Management Association offers certification for entry level as well as advanced medical coders. Upon completion of a training program, you can expect to find plentiful employment opportunities. It is estimated that the vacancy rate for medical billing and coding positions hovers near to 18%.
Medical coding is a career path which offers many opportunities as medical coders employed in hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers, outpatient clinics, physicians' offices, insurance companies and many other health care related settings/ Medical coding specialists earned a median annual wage of $23, 890 in 2003. Some medical coders advance in their careers by choosing a specialty or becoming a supervisor. Some medical coders working in these areas can earn $30,000 - $35,000 annually.
If you are considering a career in medical coding, the future is bright. Between now and 2012, the employment opportunities for medical coders is expected to increase by 36% according to the U.S. Department of Labor.