Medical billing and coding specialists, also known as medical records and health information technicians, organize and process patient health records in paper and electronic form. They work in private medical practices, hospitals, and insurance companies. Medical billing and coding specialists code patient records for the purposes of patient billing and insurance reimbursement. General job duties include:
- Documenting a patient's health information in both paper and electronic formats
- Coding patient records
- Updating patient records and reviewing records for accuracy
- Acting as a liaison between health clinicians and billing offices
The BLS reports that the number of medical billing and coding jobs will increase by 21% from 2010 to 2020. As the nation's baby boomer population continues to age, the demand for health services will grow, along with the need for accurate patient record-keeping. The addition of more patient records into the healthcare system will create more job opportunities for medical billing and coding specialists and may help them command a higher salary, as well.
Becoming a Specialist
Medical billing and coding specialists will need a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree. Employers also require additional professional certification. Most certificate or associate degree programs prepare students to sit for certification exams administered by various national organizations, including the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC), the American Health Information Management Association (AHMA), and others.
Many accredited schools offer medical billing and coding certificate and degree programs entirely online. Be sure to check to see if the online or on-campus program you are considering will prepare you to sit for one or more national professional medical billing and coding certification exams. Classes you are likely to take in a medical billing and coding specialist certificate or associate's degree program include:
- Medical Terminology
- Healthcare Delivery Systems
- Health Insurance Billing and Reimbursement
- Pharmacology for Health Information Technology Professionals
Specialists will need strong computer and technical skills as electronic health records (EHR) are becoming the norm throughout the healthcare industry. Good interpersonal and communication skills are also helpful, since specialists must discuss detailed and at times complicated patient data with physicians and finance personnel.