“Should I become a medical records coder? I hear it is a very lucrative field and I can work from home!” Have you had this thought? If so, read on to find information to ponder before deciding!
One should take an in depth look into the industry before jumping in! Let’s start from the beginning! You will need to obtain a coding credential. Deciding what credential you need will depend on the type of coding you would like to do. The most popular and recognizable credentials are Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and Certified Coding Specialist (CCS). The CPC is offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders and the CCS is offered by American Health Information Management Association. A CPC mainly codes in an outpatient setting (physician offices, emergency departments, labs, etc.). A CCS mainly codes in the inpatient setting (hospitals).
Once you decide what credential you want, you will need to take a course to prepare you to take the exam to earn the credential. Any course to prepare you for either credential will take a minimum of 6-12 months. This depends on if you are new to healthcare or not. If you are new to healthcare, you will need to take a medical terminology and physiology course in addition to the coding course.
After earning your credential, to obtain a coding position, most companies require you to take a coding test. These coding tests may consist of 25-50 questions and take 1-4 hours or longer to complete. You do not receive payment for taking coding tests. After passing the test and having a successful interview, you will become a coder for the organization. The biggest expectations of a coder are quality and productivity. Most organizations expect their coders to maintain, at minimum, a 95% coding accuracy rate. Productivity differs by the patient type (emergency room, clinic, hospital stay, etc.) you are coding. For example, if you are coding outpatient emergency room medical records, the standard productivity is 15-20 charts per hour and for hospital inpatient medical records 3-4 per hour.
The key to meeting these expectations is to constantly invest in yourself. Do not depend on your employer to do this for you. It is your responsibility to constantly sharpen your coding skills! Constantly sharpening those skills will make you a great coder. Coding is ever changing and it is impossible to know everything about the profession. What you should do is be resourceful. Know where to go to find the answers you need. Read, research, and review coding information regularly. To maintain your coding credentials, you are required to earn a certain number of continuing education units each year. However, this is not enough. You will need more coding education to perform at the level needed to be and remain a valuable coder.
So, back to the question of should you become a medical records coder! Perhaps reading the pros and cons below will bring you one step closer to your answer:
|Starting pay $17.00 per hour||Small margin of error|
|No college degree needed||Productivity standards|
|Work from home option||Pre-employment coding test|
|Flexible hours||Volatile industry guidelines|
|Can work for multiple organizations at the same time||Must have resources are expensive|
While medical records coding is not a get rich quick profession, it can be very lucrative if you put in the time and effort.
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