Interested in training for a new career in medical billing and coding? March is the perfect time to think about it, with Health Information Professionals Week celebrated from March 22-28. Medical billing and coding is also a fast-growing occupational field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job openings for medical records and health information specialists (the career category that includes medical billers and coders) should grow by 11% over the 2018-2028 period, adding 23,100 new jobs nationwide.[i]
In addition to strong projected job growth,
medical billing and coding makes an important contribution to today’s
increasingly technology-enhanced healthcare services. To give you an idea of
why that is, consider this: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) report that there were 883.7 million visits to physicians in 2016, the
most recent year for which statistics are available.[ii] Each and every one of those visits will have generated multiple medical billing
and coding entries. That’s billions of pieces of data every year.
All of that data provides information to
practitioners, insurance companies, researchers, and patients. Here are four
ways medical billing and coding play important roles in supporting better, more
efficient healthcare service.
Medical Coding Creates a Record of Patient Health
Medical coding is the practice of assigning
a code to every diagnosis, treatment, and procedure a patient receives, as well
as the supplies used. Over time, this data builds up a detailed picture of an
individual patient. That picture offers every practitioner who sees the patient
access to his or her medical history. Practitioners can use this data to spot
patterns in a patient’s conditions, look out for adverse reactions to
medications, and much more.
Thanks to modern digital technology, these
patient records are easily accessible to practitioners who are granted access
to them. The medical codes in a patient’s records also form the basis for
medical billing procedures and for medical research data.
Medical Billing Keeps Payments Flowing
Medical billing is the practice of translating
medical codes into claims for payment. Medical billing is how doctors get paid
by insurance organizations, including public insurance providers like Medicare
and Medicaid or private insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna
In addition to helping practitioners get
paid, medical billers ensure that insurance companies provide accurate coverage
of costs or reimbursements to patients.
Medical Billing and Coding Can Catch Errors and Duplicate
Both medical billers and coders can spot
problems and flag up potential errors that could create unnecessary costs or potentially
harm patients. For example, a medical coder may note that a hospital recorded providing
a patient with two CAT scans of the same body part within five minutes during
one visit—most likely an error, but one that could lead to very costly bills if
not followed up on.
Medical Coding Contributes to Public Health Research
Finally, medical billing and coding data
creates the statistics public health officials and healthcare researchers need
to track how diseases progress through the population. Each year, for example,
health officials use medical coding data to track how seasonal flu spreads. You
can also bet that the work medical coders are doing now will help researchers
to understand the current pandemic, too.
This practice is not new to the digital
age. In fact, the earliest known example of doctors solving a public health
problem using medical records goes back to 1854, when a doctor named John Snow
used hospital records to trace an outbreak of cholera in London to one
contaminated water pump.[iii] However, today’s medical billers and coders generate data much more quickly and
accessibly—meaning researchers can protect the public more effectively.
Train for a Medical Billing and Coding Career
If you’re fascinated by health science,
detail oriented and technologically savvy, medical billing and coding could be
the right career path for you.
Altierus Career College offers an eight-month medical
billing and coding diploma program that teaches medical terminology, procedural
and diagnostic coding standards, insurance processing and collection strategies,
and more. You’ll also receive preparation for the Certified Professional Coder
(CPC) certification exam. Visit our website to find out more today!