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Medical Billing and Coding Programs

Medical Billing and Coding Programs

What Is Medical Billing And Coding?

Medical billers and coders classify healthcare services for invoicing of insurance claims and reimbursement purposes. These professionals rely on their familiarity with medical terminology as well as industry references on diagnostic and procedural codes, including the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) manual from the American Medical Association. Coders or coding specialists examine patient records to identify pre-existing conditions and work with electronic health record or EHR software applications. In addition to billing responsibilities, they may provide administrative support for healthcare facilities, for example, maintaining patient medical records. Additional career information is available on our medical billing and coding career page.

Medical Billing And Coding Certification Information

Trade schools, community colleges and universities offer medical billing and coding training on campus, virtually, or through hybrid programs that combine offline and online education. Some programs allow students to acquire practical experience in medical billing and coding through school-sponsored projects or company internships.

Medical billing and coding schools focus on billing, coding, insurance and reimbursement procedures in the healthcare industry, using codes from the CPT and other resources. Related studies examine medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, healthcare record classification, standards for healthcare data, and medical office software applications.

After completing their training, graduates may seek medical billing and coding certification, which is requested by many employers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov). Varying certifications are available, including the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). Certification may require passing a professional exam, completion of an accredited program and/or experience. To renew certification, professionals may need continuing education credits.

Medical Billing And Coding Program Types

Students seeking medical billing and coding training should choose a program that is compatible with their personal and professional responsibilities and goals. For example, accelerated degrees might be appropriate for younger students with fewer work and family obligations. Part-time degrees could provide older students the flexibility needed to accommodate demanding personal and professional schedules. Candidates may increase their admission chances at medical billing and coding schools by taking health, computer science, math and biology courses in high school, according to BLS.gov.

Programs such as the following are available to those interested in entering the field of medical billing and coding:

  • Certificate or Diploma: Typically takes several months and may offer a path into the medical billing and coding field for those with related degrees or experience.
  • Associate Degree: Could take about two years of full-time study to complete, and may suit students interested in possibly pursuing a bachelor's degree. General education classes may help sharpen communication, computer and business skills.
  • Bachelor's Degree: Studies could span about four years and could target a wider range of subjects in addition to billing and coding, such as health information management. Classes outside the major, like English Composition, can help students learn how to communicate more effectively.

Prospective students should do their research and check that training programs satisfy potential requirements for professional certification.

Medical Billing And Coding Course Descriptions

While individual medical billing and coding training programs vary, similar courses may be offered across schools. In addition to coursework on billing and coding fundamentals, common courses could include the following:

  • Diseases of the Human Body: Familiarizes students with disease causes, symptoms, tests and therapy.
  • Medical Office Management: Educates students on processes used for various administrative tasks in healthcare settings.
  • Medical Terminology: Exposes students to the language of medicine, including the various systems of the body.
  • Software Applications for Healthcare: Prepares students to operate commonly used healthcare applications.

Potential Careers In Medical Billing And Coding

Between 2010 and 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects increased employment of medical records and health information technicians. An aging population is expected to require more medical treatment, and more technicians could be needed to handle the growth in record-keeping and insurance reimbursement claims.

Graduates of medical billing and coding schools may also be interested in related healthcare careers. Related career options could require additional experience or education, for example, healthcare administrators typically hold a bachelor's degree. BLS.gov lists these occupations as similar to those of medical records and health information technicians:

  • Healthcare Administrators: Fulfill wide-ranging administrative duties in medical practices or healthcare facilities, including specific areas such as health information systems.
  • Medical Transcriptionists: Convert voice recordings of health care providers into written documentation.

Links to Sources and Associations

The following websites offer more information about medical billing and coding:

American Academy of Professional Coders or AAPC

American Health Information Management Association

Current Procedural Terminology: American Medical Association

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians: O*Net Online

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012

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