Career Options for Certified Medical Billing and Coding Specialists
If you are interested in working in healthcare but don’t prefer to work directly with patient care, a career as a medical billing and coding specialist is a great option for you.
The job outlook for medical billers and coders is strong and the demand for employees with this skill continues to grow in today’s healthcare environment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for medical billers and coders is projected to increase 9% by 2030.
Job Responsibilities of a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
The primary responsibilities of medical billers and coders are typically to support healthcare professionals by updating medical records for patients and obtaining payments for services rendered. Every time a diagnosis and/or medical procedure occurs, a specific code is assigned which needs to be entered into the patient’s health record. This code is used to bill insurance companies and process claims.
Patient information that needs to be coded and billed includes patient symptoms, treating physician information, patient diagnosis, and medications or devices used in patient treatment.
Patient confidentiality is a top priority when working with patient data, so medical billers and coders must be proficient on HIPPA laws and their application.
Most medical billing and coding roles are back-office jobs with little-to-no direct interaction with patients. Medical billers and coders work frequently with healthcare providers, coworkers, and insurance companies to keep the billing process running smoothly and accurately.
Where Medical Billers and Coders Work
One of the more interesting aspects of a medical billing and coding career is the variety of work environments available.
Hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices are the most common places to work, but there are several other options, including, dentists’ offices, chiropractors, outpatient care centers, physical therapists’ offices, nursing homes, ambulance services, and acupuncture clinics.
Job Options for a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist
Becoming a medical biller and coder does not require a college degree but earning a certificate in medical billing and coding is strongly encouraged as it makes your knowledge base and candidacy to prospective employers more attractive. It can also lead to a higher earning potential.
Job responsibilities of professionals in medical billing and coding differ according to the employer, so it is not possible to clearly delineate specific responsibilities according to job title, but there are several career options available that generally fall into the following options:
Medical Records Technicians ensure accuracy of patients’ medical records used to bill insurance claims. This includes tracking and updating a patient’s medical history, prior claims, and treatments. Often, medical records technicians also transcribe patient records into code based on universal coding guidelines and policies.
Medical Billers submit a coded transcript with a summary of patients’ visits to file insurance claims. They work directly with medical coders (who create the medical codes utilizing specialized software) and are a liaison between healthcare providers, patients, and insurance companies. Other responsibilities may include setting up payment plans for patients, appealing dismissed claims, and reviewing patient bills.
Coding Specialists work with medical billers to create medical coding per the summary of a patient’s visit with a healthcare provider. They employ a universal coding system that records data such as symptoms and diagnoses, surgeries, prescribed medications, therapies, and other treatments. They interact frequently with doctors and medical assistants to ensure the accuracy of patient information and avoid data discrepancies that can lead to insurance claim rejection.
Health Information Technologists use technology such as visual image storage systems and data entry software to help physicians provide optimal treatment to their patients. They are often involved in training staff across different departments in specialized healthcare software and systems. Health information technologists are considered IT specialists who install, integrate, and troubleshoot healthcare technology systems and software.
Billing analysts are responsible for the accuracy of patient billing. This is a customer support role that frequently interacts with patients to address billing questions and concerns. Billing analysts review invoices to look for discrepancies which often involves interacting with other departments and insurance carriers. Additionally, billing analysts may be responsible for reviewing and implementing billing procedures and working with health information technologists to adjust or improve software as needed.
Medical Records Coordinators are more senior-level professionals responsible for managing patient records. They work frequently with doctors, nurses, and other coworkers to ensure accuracy of how patient records are recorded and organized. They also provide patient records to physicians, nurses, and other providers and ensure patient confidentiality is always protected.
Medical Collectors pursue overdue patient payments for all approved doctor visits, hospital stays, surgeries, and any other form of billable treatments. This position requires excellent customer service skills as it involves frequent communication directly with patients. Medical collectors are often responsible for establishing payment plans with patients who cannot pay the entire bill immediately.
All these positions are a great entry into the healthcare field and provide opportunities for career advancement. Deciding which career path is right for you includes determining which roles play best to your skills sets and preferences.
For example, if you don’t like speaking on the phone, a medical collector position probably isn’t right for you. If you are extremely detail-oriented, a billing analyst role is a great option. If you want to learn more about direct patient care, becoming a medical records coordinator increases your interaction with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.