The process of assigning codes to easily identify medical services, diagnoses, and procedures is important in all medical facilities, including doctor’s offices. Without medical coders working in these facilities, physicians would have a difficult time keeping track of and billing for the services that they provide.
A doctor’s office medical coder is a medical coder that is employed by outpatient physicians’ offices. They work closely with physicians, nurses, and other employees in these facilities to ensure that the proper codes are assigned to each patients’ records. This involves a great deal of diligence and communication, but it is also a truly rewarding career.
Medical coding is one of the few careers in the field of medicine in which years and years of schooling is not required. Many individuals can start their coding careers in as little as a few years. During this time, prospective medical coders must complete the proper training and earn their certification.
Because the field of healthcare is steadily growing, qualified professionals to fill positions created by this growth are in high demand. Qualified healthcare professionals, including medical coders, are often well-compensated for their skills. They can also rest easy that their skills will be in high demand, even in a less than perfect economy.
Duties and Responsibilities
Doctor’s office coders are responsible for coding all of the medical records and charts for all of a physicians’ patients. To do this, they must have a good knowledge of different medical coding systems, including Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) and Diagnosis-related Group (DRG) systems. However, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) medical coding system is most used by medical coders in physicians’ offices.
When a medical coder in a doctor’s office receives patient charts and records, they must examine them to determine and assign the best medical code for each item. In some cases, the best codes may not be apparent, and medical coders may need to obtain clarification from a physician or nurse.
Since it’s imperative that medical records and medical codes are as accurate as possible, doctor’s office medical coders might also be responsible for correcting inaccurate codes. They may also need to process and submit claims to insurance companies for billing purposes, or invoicing patients.
In addition to their primary coding duties, medical coders in doctor’s offices will often have other clerical duties. This can include answering phones, booking appointments, and even greeting patients.
Necessary Skills, Education, and Experience
Working as a medical coder in a doctor’s office requires a number of very important skills. These medical coders must be able to work quickly and accurately in a sometimes hectic work environment. Effective communication skills and knowledge of computers are also important traits for medical coders to have.
Although there is no set education requirements to become a doctor’s office medical coder, you will need some training before you can jump into this career. Education requirements will vary, depending on the employer, but most doctor’s offices will only hire medical coders with a minimum of a two year associate degree in medical coding or health information.
Medical coders that work in doctor’s offices should also earn their medical coding certifications, which are offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC). The best certifications to obtain if you’re looking to work in a doctor’s office would be the physician-based Certified Professional Coder (CPC-P) certification from the AAPC or the physician-based Certified Coding Specialist (CCS-P) from the AHIMA.
The amount of experience you need to become a doctor’s office medical coder can also vary from employer to employer. For instance, some doctor’s offices may be willing to hire newly certified medical coders with little to no professional experience. on the other hand, many doctor’s offices prefer to hire medical coders with at least a year or more of experience in the field. If this is the case, you may need to gain medical coding experience elsewhere, such as at a hospital or through a medical coding internship.
Tips for Getting a Job as a Doctor’s Office Medical Coder
You can often find medical coding positions in doctor’s offices by browsing through your local newspaper, online job boards, or contacting local physician offices directly. Some doctor’s offices may hire new medical coders through employment agencies or staffing agencies as well.
One of the best assets you can have when searching for a medical coding job in a doctor’s office is a strong resume. Your medical coding resume should list all of your qualifications for the job you’re applying for, including your education and certifications. If possible, you should also consider collecting some letters of recommendation from professionals in the medical coding field, such as past supervisors or professors.