Everyone follows different career paths that often line up with their personality traits, or they have some interest in their type of work. While some people may straight out follow their passion, like becoming an artist, singer, or dancer, some people's passion may not be as obviously alignable with a job.
We all know people who are responsible, exceptionally organized, disciplined in their schedule, and dedicated to meeting deadlines. These people have great potential to become Medical Billing and Coding specialists because that's precisely the qualities that the profession requires. We think you'd agree that taking care of deadlines is essential in a fast-paced world. While taking responsibility for other people's medical records, patient data, and insurance plans so that they can get medical help on time is important and noble work. This is why in-office Medical Coding and Billing is a full-fledged profession that one can pursue. Keep reading to find out how you could become a Medical Billing and Coding specialist.
Step One - Understanding the job responsibilities
Although we have touched upon the essential job functions so far, if you're exploring career options, you must get into the depths of the job duties. So, what is a medical billing and coding specialist? They are the people you find in hospitals, big or small clinics, or outpatient centers who document and process each medical procedure a patient goes through and match it up with the patient's insurance plans.
The game of medical codes
The medical billing and coding specialist job description doesn't just revolve around preparing and sending invoices to a patient's insurance company for payment. But to work efficiently, they work as a medical coder who precisely codes each service, procedure, diagnosis, consultation, and treatment. These codes are universal and applied to the patient's medical information to categorize it through a standardized method. These codes can then simplify the task of healthcare providers billing for reimbursement from the insurance companies of their patients. In short, taking care of these electronic medical records is part of the profession's core function.
Although Medical Coding and Billing specialists do not provide direct patient care, they work closely with registered nurses and other healthcare workers to assemble information. The following are examples of the different categories of work that are covered under the profession:
- Cancer registration: This is the procedure of verifying the cancer patient's records and pathology reports in their entirety, assigning the codes to represent the particular cancer treatment, and keeping track of their benign tumors (that don't spread to other parts of the body). Keeping follow-ups and reminders for their regular check-ups and arranging all patient records for national research purposes also falls into one of the roles of this profession.
- Health Information technicians: Collecting, tracing, and analyzing all aspects of the treatment and making sure follow-ups are scheduled along with all legal documents, health insurance authorization, and ready to go for any major procedures is what the role of a Medical Coding and Billing specialist deals with on a day to day basis.
Step 2 - Understanding the employment outlooks of a Medical Coding and Billing specialist
The growing number of insurance companies and plans and an enlightened number of health-conscious people investing in those plans have resulted in an influx of job opportunities in hospitals, walk-in-clinics, family offices, and other outpatient departments for the role of a Medical Coding and Billing specialist. Options also extend to working in medical billing firms and health insurance companies.
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor, the employment opportunities for this role are set to grow a good nine percent from 2020 to 2030, which is about the same amount as the rest of the occupations1. So, you could affirm that the chances of employment are at par with other professions.
Step 3 - How do I get started?
The eligibility criteria to becoming any healthcare specialist is a postsecondary certification. A certification program can land you an entry-level job, and depending on the enrollment (full-time or part-time), the course can take 4 months up to 15 months to complete. Most programs will also provide you with a hands-on internship or externship, so it's easier to settle in once you join the workforce. No matter the length of the course here's what a Medical Coding and Billing specialist course will consist of:
Coherent computer skills
Computers have played a significant role in the history of medical science. Since most of the job requires you to maintain records, analyze and keep track of patient information, working a computer to its utmost utility is essential. That is why every course you may be browsing through online will cover basic computer skills. Fast navigation, data storage, data processing, and internal analysis are all topics that will be touched upon. Your typing speed must also be up to mark. Although these may seem like skills you already possess, there will be specific training in accordance with the medical field.
Training in medical procedures and billing
As most of the job requires you to sit in-office and interact with patients suffering from various illnesses, you will be trained in front office management, better known as reception etiquette. Another responsibility that will be covered is how to schedule appointments, maintain patient records, write emails, and file legal documents. The software you should have an understanding of after the overall training is Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Powerpoint.
As discussed previously, medical coding is the process of applying codes to all medical procedures to categorize and bill them through a standardized method. So, naturally, one facet of any Medical Coding and Billing specialist program will cover applying proper codes. Part of coding is familiarizing oneself with specific medical terminology, like the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) and International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9) manuals.
A well-recognized course will always provide some internship or externship to give its students a taste of the real world. This early exposure before entering the job market as a healthcare worker is essential to one's confidence. It's the only time students will be taught and trained in the environment they are expected to thrive in once hired as a permanent employee.
However, the key to taking advantage of this hands-on training is getting direct guidance from existing healthcare specialists and working under their care to rectify and improve your skills. This also helps students decide what kind of employment and environment they would like to apply for, such as large or small clinics, hospitals, insurance companies, or other healthcare facilities that they'd prefer the most. Likewise, it kickstarts the building of your unique resume and helps you prepare for future interviews.
Step 4 – Finding a good school
What are the medical billing and coding specialist schools near me?
This is precisely the kind of question that should be on your mind if this article has done a good job explaining to you the steps of becoming a Medical Insurance Billing and Coding specialist. Suppose you think organizing, coding, and doing some medical paperwork so patients can get their insurance claims on time is something that you would like to take responsibility for. In that case, the profession of a Medical Coding and Billing specialist is for you. Or maybe you know somebody whose passion is as subtle as organizing things daily and is interested in entering the workforce in a small amount of time. In which case, it's for both of you!
NCC offers the complete package for all your needs
Lucky for you, your search for a good school that covers the necessary quota of becoming a proficient Medical Coding and Billing specialist ends here. We bring to you National Career College's Medical Office specialist program that educates you, trains you, and provides externship opportunities that can help you start your career in less than 8 months! Don't worry from enhanced computer skills to proficiency in medical terminology, coding, and billing, this course covers it all. And since NCC specializes in all courses related to healthcare, it will never take its students' health for granted. For this reason, NCC offers an online program for its students that may want to pursue the course from a distance or an offline one that is on-campus and interactive.
After graduating from this short-term course, students will be eligible for entry-level employment. The employment assistance at NCC gives full support to the students of firstly landing a good externship and secondly delivering the necessary employment support for students to land a job matching their caliber. Other than assisting in securing entry-level employment, NCC graduates are encouraged to complete some crucial certifications. These certifications include the Nationally Certified Insurance & Coding Specialist (NCICS) and Nationally Certified Medical Office Assistant (NCMOA).
If you've always wanted to work in the healthcare sector, but years of education, blood, or just seeing the insides of the human body make you dizzy, then this is one way to contribute to the healthcare industry. Managing paperwork, invoices, and maintaining patient records may look like just ordinary work from afar. However, when patients can successfully receive their diagnosed treatment thanks to the money and bills you helped clear from insurance companies, then this career will be much more rewarding than it might seem.
- Medical Records and Health Information Specialists: Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021, November 2). U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved November 17, 2021, from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm