The 5 Must-Have Skills to Be a Successful Professional Coder
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It's hard to imagine a medical facility without a professional coder. No one would know the medical codes, no one would know what to do when claims are denied and No one would get paid because insurance claims wouldn't be filed.
A professional medical coder is a critical component to any medical team because they're the ones qualified to review a patient's file and use the universal codes required by insurance companies for claims. They work in doctor's offices, surgery centers and hospitals as well as on contract for other healthcare systems.
While they tend to work behind the scenes, that doesn't mean that certified professional coders aren't in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the need for health information technicians is expected to grow much faster than average over the next decade, with an estimated 29,000 new openings becoming available throughout the country.
What does it take to be a professional coder? Keep reading.
A Closer Look at Coding
The 2019 median pay for a professional medical coder is $42,630 a year, or $20.50 an hour. Coders usually work full-time in medical offices, with plenty of time in front of the computer. Some professional coders can work remotely as well.
To become a medical coder, you must earn a postsecondary certification or complete an associate's degree program in health information technology. The two main certification options are a CPC credential through the American Academy of Professional Coders or a CCS-P through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). MedCerts Professional Coder certification program offers paths to either certification.
Five Skills You Need to Be a Successful Professional Coder
Before you decide to position yourself for a career as a medical coder, here are five skills you should make sure you have:
1. Good Organizational Skills
Professional coders must oversee the processing of patient files and paperwork in order to submit claims to insurance companies, so nothing can fall through the cracks. You must be highly organized and comfortable with plenty of work on your desk. If you naturally keep organized, you won't be overwhelmed with the tasks.
2. Attention to Detail
Was that code ending in 08 or 09? There is simply no room for error in medical coding. You must be willing and able to double-check your work and think clearly so that you use the right medical code for the procedure or diagnosis provided.
3. Ability to Absorb Information
To be a professional medical coder, you must know both medical coding guidelines and medical terminology inside and out. In essence, coders speak another language. It's your job to translate medical procedures and diagnoses into codes.
4. High Integrity
The patient data that medical coders handle is confidential. You must maintain the highest ethics so patients can trust you and the rest of the medical team with their health information.
5. Confidence With Technology
As a medical coder, you'll be working with coding and classification software, as well as the electronic health record that the medical office has adopted.