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Medical Coding Training School: Medical Coding Courses and Online Medical Coding Certification Education

Medical coding is a process by which medical diagnoses and procedures are changed into universal medical codes. The federal government's new legislation mandates that all healthcare industries adhere to a standardized medical coding system. Having accurately coded medical data facilitates the electronic storage of patient records, reimbursement of medical insurance claims, assessment of healthcare standards, administrative and research activities.

Job Description and Responsibilities of Medical Coding School Graduates

Medical coders are skilled professionals trained in classifying medical data from patient records. Graduates of medical coding schools can expect to perform a range of tasks such as:

  • Assigning classification codes based on clinical information

  • Assigning disease-related groupings for billing purposes

  • Registering patients by recording relevant details, such as personal particulars and insurance information

  • Verification, coding and billing of patient insurance claims

  • Processing of patient payments

  • Maintaining and updating patient information registries

  • Analyzing data to for quality-improvement purposes, research, cost control, and legal use

Career Options After Medical Coding School

Students of medical coding schools can opt to work in:

  • Hospitals

  • Specialist practices

  • Group practices

  • Clinical research institutions

  • Insurance firms

Medical Coding Schools Training & Certification

Prospective medical coders can obtain medical coding training through a few avenues. One way to garner medical coding training is to attend a college or university, which grants associate and bachelor's degrees in health information management. There are over 200 such institutions in the United States. A medical training course in one of these educational institutions typically offers 2- and 4-year programs, depending on the type of degree.

Another option is to enroll in a medical coding certificate program. Such programs are offered by a variety of healthcare organizations, private companies, and academic institutions such as community colleges. Some of the courses taught include basic anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, ICD-9-CM (International Classification of Diseases) coding and clinical data analysis.

The third alternative is an online medical training course. Various organizations and educational institutions teach the basics of medical record coding through a combination of interactive web-based lessons and textbook learning. Such programs offer students flexibility to learn at a time and place of their choosing.

Graduates of medical coding schools should seriously consider getting certified as they will be looked upon favorably by prospective employers. Being certified demonstrates your competence in medical coding training and commitment to high standards of healthcare.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) issues 3 medical coding certifications:

Certified Coding Associate (CCA)

Recent graduates of medical coding schools can get an entry-level coding credential to certify their competency. The CCA is the starting point for graduates of medical coding schools who are beginning their career.

Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)

The CCS credential denotes a high standard of proficiency in coding beyond the entry level certification. Medical coders must be very familiar with the ICD-9-CM coding system and the CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) coding system's surgery section. Clinical coders must, in addition, be apprised of medical terminology, hospital practices, pharmacology and treatment options in order to translate the information within clinical case notes into medical codes.

Certified Coding Specialist-Physician-based (CCS-P)

The CCS-P is a medical coder who is certified to work in a physician-based environment such as physicians' offices, clinics, specialty centers or other similar settings. In addition to having a sound knowledge of ICD-9-CM and CPT coding systems, a certified CCS-P will also be familiar with HCPCS (Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System) Level II coding systems.

Medical Coding Schools Accreditation

Before enrolling in a medical coding school, you should establish its credibility as an educational institution. If you have selected a medical coding certificate program, you need to verify that the medical training course is approved by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). For medical coding schools offering degrees programs, you should check the institution's accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM), which is responsible for ensuring various medical coding training programs meet a minimum set of criteria for comprehensive training.

Medical Coding School Graduates Earning Potential and Employment Prospects

Graduates of medical coding schools made $25,590 on average in 2004 with the middle 50 percent earning between $20,650 and $32,990. Those who worked in tertiary centers and group practices tended to earn more.

Employment prospects look good as the demand for skilled medical coding school graduates has grown significantly. This is primarily due to the exponential growth of the managed care and health services delivery industries. Medical coders can advance in their career by specializing or moving into management. Those who specialize may do so in a particular type of coding or cancer registry, for example. Such skills can be gained on the job and certification is available. Certified medical coders have a significant edge because prospective employers highly regard their credentials and expertise.


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