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are you interested in starting a career in medical coding?
what is medical coding?
Medical coding is the process of translating large portions of records and text into medical codes. so it's a lot easier for an insurance company to process codes and set up regulations based on codes versus big paragraphs of text and narratives. so instead of having to submit the insurance company a big long narrative that an EKG was done pictures of the EKG, you would just submit a CPT code a common procedural code which is 93000. so if the insurance gets the claim and they see that it's for that CPT code the EKG they would expect to see maybe a heart related type of condition. so maybe atrial fibrillation where the heart is beating irregularly and they would have to see that diagnosis code for that diagnosis matched up with that procedural code and they would know.
okay, this is something we cover that's a medically necessary diagnosis we're gonna pay that claims if they get that CPT code though through their system and it says 93000 which they know is EKGs and it says something strange on there. like you know eye pain then they might go why the heck are we running an EKG for eye pain. they can have a really easy edit in the system that goes we're not gonna pay for that and knock that out send it back to the billing company to take a look at that. it makes things a lot easier from a technology standpoint to just utilize those codes because they could put edits in place all kinds of systems for tracking and trending and claim payments.
it really speeds up the process versus having someone read an entire report and go is there something we pay for or not. when medical coding most coders still use books. they do sometimes use what is called an encoder which is almost like a lookup tool for the codes. that is used we have a couple different code sets and they're in books. 
so first is our icon-10 which is our diagnosis code (International Classification of diseases) so those are our diagnosis codes diabetes, atrial fibrillation, hypertension, foot wound, diagnosis codes. next is our CPT or (current procedural terminology). these are our procedure codes things like a cholecystectomy a rhinoplasty an office visit anesthesia services any kind of procedure or service that you could think of that you might be billed for and then we have hick pics or the healthcare common procedure or coding system and this book is a lot of like durable medical equipment medications some insurance-specific codes. like our high mark plans, specific codes for a female, well visit.
so a medical coder utilizes either those books or their computer. and coder system to find the great codes to submit for the services that were provided and then documented. why don't we think about schooling for medical coding you can go to school at your local technical school your local Community College will probably offer classes and there's a lot of online stuff just make sure you really do your research because some of them are a little sketchy.
 so you want to make sure you go to someone really reputable I always suggest if you're gonna go through the AAPC like you're looking for one of their credentials CPCC, OCC, IC go through the AAPC or one of their approved instructors because they have the official curriculum they can guide you through the other option.
other than AAPC is an AHIMA that's a big decision you have to make when you start thinking about medical coding is if you want to get certified through AAPC or AHIMA most employers only want to hire certified coders so you have to really look at an APC and AHIMA and determine what path you want to go through AAPC people think more. 
so for professional coding which is coding for a physician or provider-based services and then AHIMA is more coding for inpatient or hospital facility services. if you're looking to just take one of those classes online that's truly just a medical coding class I would really suggest that you have medical terminology as a prerequisite. I have seen some people online that say you know you don't really have to learn medical terminology to be a coder. which is absolutely not true if you don't learn medical terminology first before you start in medical coding what's gonna basically happen is it's gonna slow down your productivity as a coder.
 it's gonna decrease your accuracy as a coder which means you're gonna be stuck in disciplinary meetings all the time with your manager. I'm trying to figure out why you're not good at your job and you want to be good at your job right so make sure that you have a good understanding of medical terminology and some anatomy and physiology before you get into learning medical coding.
Because you know you want to be successful in your career. so that's something that you want to do and if you are having to work at all with communicating back and forth to physicians or providers or people in the office. even you know you want to know that you want to feel that you have a good understanding of what you're speaking to the AAPC releases. an annual medical coding salary survey that you can check online if you're interested in the different types of salaries that are average for that type of coding so for example a certified professional coder a coder that codes professional or provider-based services earns a medium salary of  $57,201 a year. outpatient coders get a little bit more $65,000 and change and then inpatient.
 coders make according to the AAPC a little over 63,000 so you might want to look at that a little bit depending on if your salary drove. you can also break it down by state and see what the average salary is for medical billers and coders in your area. you may have heard that a lot of medical coders work from home and that's true that might even be a big reason. why you are looking into getting into this field I can tell you that I waited about 12 years until I felt comfortable working from home as a medical coder. some people do get medical coding remote positions right away it is the very slim reason being is most places require two years of experience before they will even hire you as a coder and even more.
 so when they want you to work remote there's just so much that you learn in those first couples of years that you're looking on-site as a medical coder that you don't always get when you're just working remote and when you're fresh out of school is a little bit more of a liability because you haven't had that experience yet so what's the job outlook going to look like when you finish your certification so you may have trouble finding a job it still depends a lot on you as a person the certification is not a passive accomplishment it doesn't really grant you a job you still have to go through that whole process of interviewing and making sure that you have additional skills beyond coding.
 so if you're sitting down at an interview for example and they see you oh you're a certified coder but you don't know how to send an email or work a spreadsheet. what your essential also requirements for that position. they might not consider you. so you know is it going to be tough finding a position? yes it's not going to be you know the floodgates open and you're just gonna get a work from home job so yeah there's a huge need for medical coders but more so for experienced medical coders, you have to accept the fact that if you're going to become a certified coder you might not right away get a coding position you might have to start working at the front desk working and billing anything to start getting your foot in the door get into the hospital organizations and then start moving on from there now if you're someone who already works in healthcare you're an LPN you're a registrar you're doing something like that then you're probably more fitted to start getting a coding job when you're certified and don't have you know a lot of the field experience.
 if you're already in healthcare you know a little bit about insurances and electronic medical records versus someone who's not worked in healthcare before and has to also learn about all those kind of nuances there's a lot of resources though that you can just utilize like externships mentorship programs getting to your local chapters for your credentialed organizations either AAPC or AHIMA.
next step is if you know someone in medical coding or can get directed to someone in medical coding to ask questions of hunt them down and talk to them a little bit see if they're willing to tell you about their experiences in your area as a medical coder you can check the AAPC website we have a lot of local chapters in the AAPC so there might be one in your area and those officers can help guide you and direct you into what they think might be the best success in the area and then any school or certification prep that you take to make sure you really really research it because you don't want to go to some fly-by-night place that's maybe too good to be true I always recommend the AAPC you can get their great curriculum online.

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