by ed2go instructor, Jennifer Della’Zanna
One of the questions I most often encounter from new students in my coding course is whether this course will result in being a certified coder. The answer is not necessarily, but it’s a great starting point. It’s up to you to put in the effort to complete the education you need to become certified.
Getting a job in the field doesn’t require certification, but it will show your dedication to the career.
Historically, billing (for hospitals and doctor’s offices) has been the training ground for coders. Often, entry level billing positions don’t require any experience, allowing most people to step right in and start working with on-the-job training. Some experience, which can be obtained over time, is necessary for full certification.
Coding and Billing are Two Different Jobs
It’s important to understand that coding and billing are actually two very different jobs. By itself, coding is purely an academic exercise. Finding the correct codes to cover a patient’s diagnosis or procedure is simply a way to organize data into a simpler form. Billing is the more practical function. It’s the act of using those medical codes to charge an insurance company for a service that was provided.
Explore a Career in Medical Coding provides a fantastic base that helps people discover whether or not they will enjoy the type of work that billers and coders do every day. The course provides students with the knowledge required to work with standard coding books and covers several of the body systems encountered in real work situations.
Besides experience, continuing education is also a good idea. The additional knowledge bases necessary for passing coding and billing certification tests, besides coding itself, are human anatomy, medical terminology, and knowledge about the health insurance reimbursement system. In fact, continuing education is so important that gaining 80 hours of education in the areas of coding, anatomy and medical terminology will reduce the experience requirement for full certification from two years to just one year!
The Need for Coders and Billers
The demand for coders and billers has been rising for several years—including the demand for certified coders. Medicare’s guidelines recommend each facility have at least one certified coder on staff. The medical community as a whole is also coming to appreciate certification as an area of expertise, and that is exactly why it has become so important in the industry. Anybody who has achieved certification is considered to be an expert in the field.
There are several types of certifications, but the main differences are found between inpatient and outpatient coders as there are slightly different rules for these two types of coding. The Explore a Career in Medical Coding course only teaches outpatient coding.
As for job opportunities in medical billing and coding… Working in a hospital often provides a great opportunity to learn from a large staff of qualified coders, and there are both outpatient and inpatient coding opportunities in a hospital setting (think emergency department or outpatient surgery center). An individual or group doctor’s office may also have a small billing/coding department. Additionally, there are companies that provide billing services for many offices that provide opportunities for learning from experienced coders as well.
Whether you want to work toward eventual certification or just learn enough to know whether you’d enjoy this type of work before applying for a billing job, Explore a Career in Medical Coding will give you the tools to confidently step forward into a rewarding new career!
About our ed2go instructor
Jennifer Della’Zanna has worked in the allied health care industry for more than 20 years in every capacity from receptionist to practice manager. Currently, she writes and edits courses and study guides about medical coding, transcription, electronic health records and the use of technology in health care. She also regularly contributes online and print articles about these topics and has actively helped prepare industry professionals for the conversion to the ICD-10 coding system. In her spare time, she writes historical fantasy fiction.