See if you have what it takes to enter this important healthcare field
The job of the medical billing and coding specialist is critical to the success of any medical practice, big or small. For physicians to be properly reimbursed for their services, these specialists must identify the types of care provided and the illnesses that patients have. Health insurance has become highly systemized. Health information systems account for whether an MD, nurse, or other professional provided care, which testing or x-rays took place, and for how long. It is the billing and coding specialist who captures all this information in the claim forms and submits it in the required format. All of these factors—and more—affect how much the insurer is willing to pay. (Learn more about the billing and coding process.)
Every new job requires some training, and with the right teachers you can quickly gain practical knowledge in this specialized field. It’s also important to think about which qualities or traits are important to succeed in this profession. Some traits that are an advantage in billing and coding include:
- Being comfortable working in an office environment: You’ll be spending a lot of your time at a desk entering patient data, applying the appropriate codes for diagnoses and procedures, and submitting claims. There will also be regular interactions with patients, to ensure that records are up to date, and with physicians and nurses, to keep things running smoothly.
- Paying attention to detail: Everything from a patient’s address to the numbers of a diagnosis code is critical to medical billing and coding. So you need to have the patience and diligence to do your work carefully and check it for accuracy.
- Liking to learn new things: There are now tens of thousands of codes that medical billers and coders use. Being able to read carefully, research thoroughly, and keep up with changes to the codes is essential. With so many options for each patient, there will regularly be new situations that require you to put your training into practice.
- Exhibit good project management skills: How busy your office or clinic is will determine the amount of information you’ll need to process, code, and submit each week. Given that most doctors’ offices are busy places, the better you are at efficiently moving multiple projects forward, the more successful you will be.
If you already have some of these traits, and you’re interested in becoming a medical billing and coding specialist, you could be well on your way! If you don’t have them all, not to worry. Many are qualities you can learn on the job. The key is finding a good training program.