Training For Medical Coders
Training for medical coders comes in a wide variety from basic training received on the
job, to web based home study programs and training from a technical school, or college. Alternatively, there
also is training via workshops, seminars and by electronic means, such as online distance education courses,
seminars, forum exchanges, audio conferences and in-services conducted by physicians to explain new procedures. To
keep their staff members current on the latest developments they also provide continuing education plans, in-house
training and incentives that foster further education.
Medical Coding Instruction
The medical coding career comes with great responsibility, nevertheless, when it comes to medical coding
educuation and training accelerated programs from an accredited vocational institution ending with a recognized
technical diploma can be just as valuable as a 2 -4 years degree in medical coding and health information
management from a community college. Upon completion of such training of choice many coders may sit for a
professional medical coding certification exam. National organizations and associations for medical coders, and
billers, are available for the certification processes.
Most medical coding and billing experts and professionals agree: the best vocational training
comes from schools where classroom instructions is provided by professionals who themselves have
direct hands-on work experience in the medical coding and billing field. Medical coding and medical billing
students typically receive instruction on
- medical billing and coding principles and technology
- regulations pertaining to Medicare, Medicaid, Blue Cross-Blue Shield
- managed care
- third party liability
- workmen's comp
- Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO)
- indemnity insurers
- ICD-9 coding Level I, II, III
and how to identify data as it relates to submitting a clean insurance claim for reimbursement. Advanced coder
education will focus on the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10. The new codes may also require a greater understanding
of anatomy, physiology, the disease process, pharmacology, surgical techniques, medical treatments and medications.
High school courses in mathematics, health, biology, typing, bookkeeping, computers and office skills will
certainly proof to be helpful in paving the way for a successful medical coding and billing career.
Certificate of Program Completion
For some, certificates of completion from correspondence courses and
home study programs may suffice for a job in a smaller family practice, however, the rapid advancement of
modern medicine and health care make medical coding procedures increasingly complicated and
therefore, most facilities, especially larger healthcare organizations and medical
centers prefer expertly trained medical coding specialists to handle these unique challenges.
Charlene Hargrove, CPMB of trimedbillingsolutions.com tells us: "Formal education is great because it teaches
you the technical components of billing, and/or coding. Experience lets you know how to apply that
education... Coding is so intricate, I do feel you need to be certified in that! I also feel that billers do
code, as they don't code from a chart, knowing to put the correct modifier on a procedure is coding."
Formal training ranges from accelerated courses at vocational training institutions leading to a technical
school diploma, or to two to four years of college leading to an associate degree. Upon completion of such training
many coders may seek professional certification. National organizations and associations for Billers and Coders are
available for the certification processes. They continue their education by attending seminars and taking
continuing education classes.
What Medical Coders Need to Know
One really has to know about anatomy, for example, having to read a transctipt of coronary
bypass surgeries and count how many arteries were bypassed, whether autogenous saphenous veins were used, or the
mammary, or thoracic artery is essential to proper coding. Furthermore, was extracorporeal circulation used (heart
lung machine)? Was there prolonged mechanical ventilation after the procedure? All this needs to be included so it
can be billed.
Other basic skills that will prove helpful from the beginning are:
- Computer maintenance
- Word processing
- Database maintenance
- Telephone communication
- English and written communications
The next step is to gain a solid understanding of the coding system.