What Is a Medical Information Coder?
Are you interested in working behind the scenes in a medical setting? Do you have a mind that works well with organization and categorization? If so, a career as a medical information coder might be right for you. Read on to find out about the responsibilities, education and employment of medical information coders. Schools offering Insurance Billing & Coding Specialist degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Medical Information Coder Defined
As a medical information coder, your main responsibilities will revolve around the translation of various medical descriptions into numerical statistics in hospitals, clinics and physicians' offices. These statistics can be used for everything from research studies to insurance reimbursement. You are also responsible for collecting and organizing patients' medical records and then checking them for correctness and completeness.
To work in the field, you are required to have a strong understanding of human anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, disease processes, and the integral coding systems used in the medical and health care environments.
Education and Certification Options
A high school diploma is considered the minimum educational requirement to become a medical information coder. However, completing a certificate or associate's degree program in medical coding or health information management will greatly increase your chances of finding employment. You also have the option of earning a medical coding certificate entirely online. These educational programs provide instruction in the main types of medical coding systems, such as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) systems. You will also receive biological and health science training, which is necessary to function effectively in the medical and health care fields.
Many employers will only hire medical information coders who have received some type of medical coding certification. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) are two of the foremost medical coding certification agencies in the country. The AHIMA offers the Certified Coding Associate and Certified Coding Specialist designations, while the AAPC offers the Certified Professional Coder designation with options for hospital outpatient and payer specializations.
Employment and Salary Info
As of 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 176,090 people employed as medical records and health information technicians; this includes medical information coders (www.bls.gov). The average annual salary for this occupational group was $35,010. This data also includes other closely related occupations in the fields of medical records and health information, such as cancer registrars. The AAPC found that in 2010, certified medical coders earned an average of $45,404 per year, while non-certified medical coders earned $37,746 per year (www.aapc.com).
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