How Do I Start Medical Coding?

The field of medical coding is a rapidly expanding field. Demand for medical coders is expected to increase at an alarming rate over the next few years.

Medical coding jobs have outpaced the other occupations, with the employment rate growing at 8%. The average employment growth for the other occupations is only at 4%. The good news is that the employment rate for medical coders is pretty steady until the year 2029. (1)

Hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities will always be in need of medical coders. So, if you’ve always wanted to work in the healthcare industry, becoming a medical coder is a great option for you to consider.

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Medical Coding Defined

The healthcare industry is not just made up of doctors and nurses. There’s a huge support for these front liners to ensure they deliver their services and expertise.

One of the most critical support of a medical front liner is a medical coder. A medical coder translates a physician’s report into the standard medical codes. While they do work behind the scenes, they have to ensure all crucial data are coded accordingly for accuracy and consistency. (2)

Sounds pretty simple? Well, not exactly. As a medical coder, you will be working with the three sets of medical codes. The first set is the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes. The second set is the Current Procedure Terminology (CPT) codes. The third set is the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS). (3)

As it is, each set contains long lists of codes. Put them together and you’re going to end up studying a ton of codes.

While there is a huge book of ICD codes, learning from a medical coding book is pretty intimidating. Now, don’t worry because you’re not required to memorize all of them.

The good news is that there are medical coding online programs that can help provide you the right skills to become successful in the said field.

As challenging as it may seem, the job of a medical coder is pretty promising. The question you might have right now is, how do I start medical coding? Continue reading to learn how to start medical coding.

Check Out Medical Coding Online Schools

There are a lot of medical coding schools that offer medical coding courses. However, enrolling in a college or university can take up a lot of your time and resources.

For convenience and flexibility, you can consider medical coding online schools. They offer medical coding online courses that you can take them at your own pace.

There are a lot of colleges, universities, and even healthcare institutions that offer medical coding online courses. Take a good look at each one of them. Then compare and create a list of your top options.

Be careful when choosing a medical coding online course. There are a lot of scams out there. You want to stay clear of them.

The first thing you should look into is the accreditation of the school. Accreditation means that the school is nationally or regionally recognized to provide an effective learning experience.

While there are schools that are accredited, their medical coding online courses are also accredited by organizations such as the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education. This is the accrediting body for degree courses in health informatics and information.

Once you have checked out the medical coding online schools, draw up a list of your preferred options.

Decide Which Course To Take

Now that you have a list of your preferred medical coding online schools, check out what they have to offer.

Usually, medical coding online schools offer both certificate and degree courses. The former is a lot shorter than the latter.

You will find that a certificate course in a medical coding online school can be completed in less than a year. Earning a degree course in medical coding can take about two years. It’s up to you to decide which one to go for.

Another thing you should look into is financial aid. Whether you take up a certificate or degree course, there’s a cost to studying medical coding.

In most cases, the cost would be per credit. While there are some medical coding online schools that offer a fixed cost per semester or year, you will find that most of them charge per credit. It’s for that reason that you should consider a medical coding online school that offers financial aid.

Go For It!

Once you have chosen from your list of medical coding online schools, go for it! Enroll and start learning medical coding.

Keep in mind that this phase of learning is just the first stage. Gearing yourself up for a career in medical coding means you have to be prepared for continuous learning.

Despite the many job opportunities for a medical coder, you have more leverage if you invest in continuous learning.

Take A Certification Exam

Upon completion of your medical coding online course, consider taking a certification exam. Certification for medical coding is important. Healthcare providers will prioritize a certified medical coder over one who isn’t.

The American Academy of Professional Coders or AAPC and American Health Information Management or AHIMA provide certification exams that you can take to increase your chances of landing a job right away.

While there are various certifications for medical coders, the top three certifications are CPC or Certified Professional Coder, CCS or Certified Coding Specialist, and CCS-P or Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-based. (4)

The CPC exam is rolled out by AAPC. Both the CCS and CCS-P exams are rolled out by AHIMA. These certifications can provide a lot of opportunities for you.

Get started with medical coding now. Check out listings of medical coding online schools. You might even find links to discussion boards and information about the school itself.

Just make sure that the school you consider has a good reputation for offering quality training, and that their requirements for enrollment are clear-cut.

It’s quite easy to start medical coding. With grit and perseverance, you can complete a course and get certified right away.

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