How to become a Medical Coder

Medical coding is one of the most booming fields of the healthcare industry and has gained a lot of attention in the past few years with drastic increase in the number of students interested to make a career in this field. With the increased demand of the medical coders, the number of schools and colleges offering training programs in the field has also risen.

Tasks Performed

The primary task of a medical coder or a medical coding specialist is to check the details about patient injuries, diseases and procedures followed to treat it with the help of medical records and documents provided by doctors and other healthcare providers. After that, the medical coder assign codes for the information which is based on an official universally used coding system. These medical codes play a significant role in the reimbursement of the claims by hospitals and their physicians for insurance purposes. So, for handling the responsibilities of this job efficiently, the person who wishes to pursue a career in this field should have an associate’s degree and a credential in coding.

Basic Requirements

So, the first step to make a career in this field is to pass a high school diploma. It is the basic requirement for attaining further degree in this field. Courses like algebra, biology, chemistry, typing, and other computer skills studied during the high school diploma can prove to be very helpful in medical coding.

After that, the person can enroll for an associate’s degree is a 2 year program if pursued from any accredited college or university.  For making a career in this field, it’s always recommended to get a degree in health information technology or something equivalent to that.

In order to get recognition as a medical coding specialist, the aspirant should choose a college or university which is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education.

Join an Accredited School or College

Apart from this, there is also the option of attending a school which has the approval of a foreign organization in reciprocity agreement with the American Health Information Management Association. The subjects which should be emphasized for becoming an efficient medical coder include physiology, anatomy and healthcare reimbursement and coding systems for medical or clinical purposes and database security and management.

Employers prefer to hire the certified medical coders so, after completing the training program; the aspirant should appear in the certification test given by AHIMA.

For this career, getting a coding credential in a specialized field also proves to be very beneficial. The two most renowned organizations which offer coding in the field are the Board of Medical Specialty Coding or BMSC and the Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists or PAHCS.

Pass Certification Exam for Better Opportunities

For gaining efficiency in this field and to become a competent and compassionate medical coder, it’s always recommended to the aspirant for this profession to gain experience in coding field by working at a clinic, dental office or other medical settings. Some other places where one can work as a medical coding specialist include consulting firms or a coding and billing service.

It’s also necessary as in some states, it’s necessary to have some work experience in order to maintain one’s credential in this field. For gaining experience, one can also take advantage of any on-the-job training offered at the workplace.

After earning the credentials, it’s also necessary to maintain them by taking recertification.  The American Academy of Professional Coders is a renowned organization which offers credentials to the medical coders.

Growth Prospects

To grow in this field, one should get a bachelor’s degree or higher to advance the career opportunities as well gaining advanced credentials in the fields of specialty. One can also look for a vocational or adult education school available in one’s area to pursue the relevant courses and begin a career in medical coding.