The nursing home industry has boomed during the last few decades, due to advances in medicine and the aging Baby Boomer generation. Growth in this industry has created more positions for qualified and dedicated nursing home employees, including nursing home medical coders.
Nursing home medical coders are medical coding specialists that work primarily in long-term care facilities. This includes residential nursing homes, respite care centers, assisted living facilities, and hospice care centers. Some nursing home medical coders may also work for large medical coding companies or as remote medical coders.
Duties and Responsibilities
The primary responsibility of a nursing home medical coder is to assign the proper codes to medical diagnoses, treatments, and procedures. To do this, they will usually need to evaluate patients’ medical charts and records. They will then use determine and assign the most accurate medical codes for billing and insurance purposes.
Like other types of medical coders, nursing home medical coders use a few common types of medical codes. These include codes to represent diagnoses, like International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes and Diagnosis-related Group (DRG) codes. Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes, which are used to describe certain medical procedures and treatments, may also be used.
Another type of medical coding used in nursing home coding is Evaluation and Management coding, or E/M Coding. This type of medical coding is used when physicians make routine evaluations of their patients, such as annual evaluations.
Once nursing home medical coders finish coding patient records and charts, they may also be responsible for processing them and submitting claims to insurance companies. They may also be required to correct inaccuracies in past coded medical charts.
Necessary Skills, Education, and Experience
A nursing home medical coder must be able to work quickly without compromising their accuracy. Organization and communication skills are also very important in this career.
Specialized computer software is used by medical coders each and every day. Therefore, nursing home coders must be computer savvy and able to keep up with the changing technology in the field.
There are two educational paths you can take in order to become a medical coder: a medical coding diploma program and a medical coding degree program. Although some employers may hire applicants with medical coding diplomas, most employers require nursing home medical coding applicants to be certified. In order to be eligible to sit for a medical coding certification examination, you must hold a minimum of an associate degree in medical coding or a related field. Additional training courses in Evaluation and Management coding are also available through the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC).
Medical coding certifications are offered by the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Common certifications include the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) certification and the Certified professional Coder (CPC) certification. Specialized physician-based and hospital-based medical coding certifications are also available.
The amount of experience needed to work as a nursing home medical coder will usually be determined by the employer. A few nursing homes may consider hiring medical coders with little to know experience, but most prefer applicants with at least a year or more experience as a medical coder.
Tips for Getting a Job as a Nursing Home Medical Coder
Before starting your job search, you should focus your time on putting together your resume that emphasizes your skills, education, experience, and certifications. Your resume can also be accompanied by a personalized cover letter and professional letters of recommendation.
Open job announcements can usually be found in newspapers and on online job boards. Office temp services and career centers may also be able to connect you with potential employers as well. You can also send your resume, cover letter, and letters of recommendation to nursing homes and similar facilities in your area.
If potential nursing home employers in your area require employees to have previous experience, you will need to obtain this experience first. You can do this by working as a temporary employee, completing an internship, or working in another facility, such as a physician’s office or hospital.