WHAT IS MEDICAL CODING?
Medical coding is the transformation of healthcare diagnosis, procedures, medical services, and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes. The diagnoses and procedure codes are taken from medical record documentation, such as transcription of physician's notes, laboratory and radiologic results, etc. Medical coding professionals help ensure the codes are applied correctly during the medical billing process, which includes abstracting the information from documentation, assigning the appropriate codes, and creating a claim to be paid by insurance carriers. Medical coding happens every time you see a healthcare provider. The healthcare provider reviews your complaint and medical history, makes an expert assessment of what’s wrong and how to treat you, and documents your visit. That documentation is not only the patient’s ongoing record, it’s how the healthcare provider gets paid.
Medical codes translate that documentation into standardized codes that tell payers the following:
- Patient's diagnosis
- Medical necessity for treatments, services, or supplies the patient received
- Treatments, services, and supplies provided to the patient
- Any unusual circumstances or medical condition that affected those treatments and services
Like a musician who interprets the written music and uses their instrument to produce what's intended, Medical Coding requires the ability to understand anatomy, physiology, and details of the services, and the rules and regulations of the payers to succeed.
Working In The Industry
Now is a very good time to look at a career in medical billing and coding. The American health care system is modernizing just as a large portion of the populace enters retirement, and the demand for health care professionals who can process crucial data is growing daily.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the medical billing and coding field is expected to grow by 15% between now and 2024. That’s almost 30,000 job openings in the next seven years.
Not only are there a large number of job openings in coding and billing, many of these jobs are fairly lucrative. The median salary for coders and billers was $38,040 in 2016—that’s $18.29 an hour when you’re starting out. The top 10% of coders across the United States make $62,840 annually, and coders in some states make even more than that. The field of medical billing and coding is growing as a result of a number of factors, chief among them being an aging population, an increasing focus on health data and informatics, and the digitization of health records. As the health care system turns increasingly to electronic health records, billing and coding specialists who are computer-savvy will have a leg up on the rest of field. Let’s now take a look at some of the day-to-day tasks performed by professional medical coders and billers. Bear in mind that, occasionally, one person performs the duties of both positions.