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How to Become Medical Coder - Steps to Become Medical Coder

Update on 07 Jun, 2022

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How to Become Medical Coder -  Steps to Become Medical Coder

The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) has defined medical coding as follows: “Medical coding is the transformation of healthcare diagnosis, procedures, medical services and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes.” This denotes the process of translating important medical information into some simpler codes to make it to document medical records and inform precise medical billing. Before jumping to the question "How to Become a Medical Coder" lets first understand who is a Medical coder

Who is Medical Coder?

Medical coders are the person who is responsible for translating physician’s reports into some useful medical codes. A medical coder work behind the scenes in the area of settings, ensuring all the pertinent information is coded properly to certify consistency and accuracy.

Once a medical provider looks after or treats a patient, the insurance company has to look after what was done to process the bill. The common language is not that exact to give the insurance company the exact details it needs, therefore a set of specific codes has been recognized to define the medical procedures. It is the duty of the medical coder to circulate this information in a way that is very useful and efficient.

Where do the Medical Coders Work?

The answer to this question is definitely a hospital. Along with that, there are several other fields where a medical coder can work. These professionals are employed anywhere in an area that offers medical services such as hospitals, clinics, urgent care facilities, nursing homes, treatment centers, and more, as per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Also, some of the insurance agencies employ a medical coder to look after the patient claims from the other side of the point and verify the accuracy of the incoming claims. In terms of accuracy, some law firms provide work for medical coders to help to identify billing fraud.

Qualities of Successful Medical Coders:

There is not any particular quality that a medical coder should have. A medical coder can be men or woman, young or old, single or married. But a good medical coder should have some of the common qualities that will help them in their job. One important characteristic is a strong principled standard as the patient data on which they have to work is highly confidential.

Medical coders should be very careful and attentive to their work as a small mistake will lead to a huge problem. They should also keep in mind that the patient data is purely confidential therefore, they should be very attentive at their work. Also, they should be extremely focused to do their job effectively and efficiently.

Some of the Important Medical Coding Skills:

There are several technical skills that a medical coder should know. To succeed in this field, a medical coder must have transferable skills. Given below are some of the top technical skills and some transferable skills that a medical coder should have. Have a look.

Top technical skills for medical coders:

  • Health information technology
  • ICD-10
  • Customer billing
  • Clinical documentation
  • Inpatient coding
  • Anatomy
  • Outpatient coding
  • CPT coding
  • ICD-9
  • HCPCS coding

Top transferable skills for medical coders:

  • Research
  • Time management
  • Communication
  • Microsoft Office®
  • Attention to detail
  • Computer literacy
  • Collaboration
  • Analytical skills
  • Organization
  • Problem-solving

How to Become Medical Coder in India:

To become a medical coder, specialized training and certification are required. This job is not as easy as it sounds. A lot of training is required in this field that’s why only some aspirants can become good medical coders. A medical coder is a valued job in the world of healthcare.

In the field of a medical coder, proper training is required therefore, it will take some time but less than the other healthcare professions, for the candidates to become a pro. Almost all the medical coding programs can be completed online these days in as few as nine months. This is the fast and flexible option that aspirants can opt-in to their busy schedules. Any candidate can go for this field like the working professionals with financial and family obligations.

Once the medical coding program is completed by the candidate, the next step is to appear for the CCA (Certified Coding Associate) or CCS (Certified Coding Specialist) exams which are offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). This is not so common step and not required always but some of the aspirants favor this to make themselves confident enough. 

Career Outlook of Medical Coders:

These days, there is a huge growth in the field of healthcare, therefore it is an advantage to the candidates to get into the field of medical coding. The job of a medical coder is on the boom in the current scenario. According to reports, the employment of medical coders to increase 13% through 2026, which is near twice the average for all occupations.

Now, the next question that will arise in your mind is, “How much do medical coders make?” As per the BLS reports, the median annual salary for medical coders in 2017 was 13,90,180 Rupee. This is slightly above the average for all occupations. Aspirants can get a higher salary if they are related to factors such as experience, education, and work setting. According to the BLS reports, medical coders can make upwards of 20,00,000 Rupees annually.

Now, by reading the above article you should be clear about the term medical coding. If you also want to get into this field, then you should be confident enough to have full knowledge and idea about medical coding. Also, there is a certification required to get into this field.

Proper training is one of the important factors to succeed in the medical coding field. The key to success is confidence and determination.

Undoubtedly, Medical coders play a very important role in the field of healthcare. Whenever a patient has a doctor’s appointment, the physician or nurse notes down the procedures that took place or what was diagnosed to the patient. By the use of their knowledge of thousands of medical codes, payment policies, and government regulations, medical coders look after the medical records and code them for billing and insurance purposes.

Without a medical coder, the medical field will not be able to know the charge for each procedure, and also the insurance companies will not be able to cover your care appropriately.

So, if you are also planning to become a medical coder but wonder - How to Become Medical Coder, then given below are some of the steps that you have to perform to become a medical coder.

Step 1: Meet the Basic Prerequisites

To become a medical coder, the first thing you need to do is that you need a high school diploma or equivalent. Also, you have to pass a background check. Applicants having a criminal history who are involved in drug offenses or sexual crimes are not eligible to apply for this field.

Step 2: Complete Medical Coding Training

The next step is to do the training. In this field, there is no formal education required to become a medical coder. Some of the employers are in search of candidates with a postsecondary certificate, while some require an Associate’s degree, as per the reports of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Getting a Medical Coding Certificate is a smart step for the candidates who want to enter the field of healthcare with a proper foundation of knowledge. Some programs of medical coding can be completed in as few as 9 months. Given below are some of the courses that aspirants can take to check their knowledge. Have a look.

Take Medical Coding Courses:
  1. ICD-CM Coding
  2. Ambulatory Care Coding
  3. Coding Foundations
  4. ICD-PCS Coding
  5. Revenue Cycle and Billing

Step 3: Obtain Your Medical Coding Certification

The medical coding certificate is of great importance. But only getting a certificate is not necessary. Being certified is more important. So the next step is to get certified.

This certificate shows employers that they are dedicated medical coder who has all the important skills that are required to succeed on the job. The choice of getting a certificate is totally yours, but according to the BLS, having certified puts up a positive impact on job prospects.

Aspirants can choose a few certifications for medical coders. Some of them are given below.

Common medical coding certificates:
  1. Certified Coding Associate (CCA)
  2. Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
  3. Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)

Step 4: Brush Up on In-Demand Medical Coding Skills

Once you know how to become a medical coder and have relevant skills then you start applying for the medical coding job, it is very useful to know what the employers are looking for so that you can be prepared and keep your best foot forward. A medical coder needs a balance of hard and soft skills. Given below are the top technical skills that are required for medical coders. Have a look.

Top Technical Skills for Medical Coders:
  • ICD-10
  • Health information technology (HIT)
  • Customer billing
  • CPT coding
  • Inpatient coding
  • Outpatient coding
  • Physiology
  • Anatomy
  • HCPCS coding
  • Medical terminology
Top Transferable Skills for Medical Coders:
  • Computer literacy
  • Communication
  • Microsoft Office
  • Collaboration
  • Organization
  • Research
  • Attention to detail

You can get a certificate in any of the above fields, this will help you get better knowledge in the medical coding field.

Step 5: Finding a job

After getting the certificate, now it’s time to find a job. According to BLS, the medical coding jobs are going to increase 11% through 2028 and this is more than twice the average for all the occupations. This is good news for all job seekers in the medical coding field.

Take the First Step Toward Becoming a Medical Coder:

Now you can become a perfect medical coder. Apply for your desired job and start your career as a medical coder. This field will raise your career in no time. I hope this article "How to become Medical coder" really helped you

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