Are you learning how to do medical billing and coding? If YES, here are 7 simple rules that will help you learn medical billing and coding in record time.

A medical coder is a health information professional who assigns universally identifiable codes to a patient’s medical diagnosis, while medical billing professionals act as the liaisons between health insurance companies and healthcare facilities. These professionals create and present health insurance claims then collect the funds. In smaller establishments, one person can handle both coding and billing.

It is very crucial to note that accuracy is paramount in this career. Medical coders and billers make use of thousands of codes from many code sets (ICD, CPT, HCPCS) that are frequently updated. These experts also convert complex medical information into these clearly defined sets of codes, which requires, to some extent, a knowledge of health topics such as anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology. You have to understand that proficiency in medical coding means being extremely accurate at all times and having a sharp eye for the smallest details.

Why Learn Medical Billing and Coding?

The demand for skilled medical coders is really high at present as the population continues to age at a rapid pace. With that high demand comes higher wages each year. Job growth for health information technicians, which includes medical coders, is expected to grow at 13 percent by 2026.

This rate of growth exceeds the average of all occupations. As demand for healthcare services increases, more trained coders will be required to manage the growing claims for reimbursement from insurance companies.

As of May 2016, reports have it that the median annual wage for health information technicians was $38,040. Not only is this above average for all occupations, but salaries for coders can be much higher depending on your qualifications, type of employer, and experience.

This is indeed a very profitable choice of career and there are multiple paths you can go through to become a medical coder, including traditional coursework at a technical school, community college, or other institution. Have it in mind that some schools offer convenient, online courses that you can complete at your own pace.

How Hard Is It to Learn Medical Billing and Coding?

It is a well-known fact that careers in healthcare can be difficult and complicated, but is the work of a medical coder just as complex? It is the work of the various health personnel to understand, interpret and diagnose problems in the complex human body.

Even health careers such as health information technician (HIT) career, which in themselves do not involve working directly with patients still requires a strong understanding of the various codes assigned to different medical diagnoses.

Learning medical coding may not be a walk in the park, yet it is not too difficult. So how difficult is it to learn medical coding? Well, some would liken it to learning a foreign language. What makes it difficult is that there are three major coding systems and each of them is different. So you are learning three foreign languages.

Learning a foreign language may seem daunting, but it’s definitely not impossible. Certain aspects take some trial and error. Even though human anatomy can come across as having a lot of grey areas, medical coding on the other hand is black and white. It can be challenging to transform cloudy and complex medical symptoms into clear, discernible codes.

You won’t get thrown into the deep end all at once. A good career training program in medical billing and coding will start with the basics. You’ll learn what you need to know about anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology so you can build a foundation for a career in healthcare. Those building blocks will help you form a more complete knowledge of the human body, how it works, and the healthcare systems that support it.

Challenges of Being a Medical Biller and Coder

One of the major challenges of being a medical coder is learning the quirks of the computer system and how to get around them. In order to do this job properly, you will need to be detail oriented and diligent. Another challenge that this profession presents is the fact that the industry is constantly changing and as such, the practitioners have to keep up with the ever changing industry.

The changes in governance and healthcare regulations all impact coding, and it is critical for coding professionals to stay on top of these changes to avoid documenting inaccurate information.

Also, the process of coding medical symptoms or treatments is a multi-step process that has a lot of different factors to consider. The sheer volume of details that must be addressed for each task can be difficult to manage. As experience is gained and processes are developed, managing the many details becomes much easier.

Medical Billing and Coding Specialists also rely on complex coding software applications to do their jobs. Due to their often-complex nature, these tools can be challenging to learn, difficult to master and frustrating to operate. With the right training and experience, these tools become a valuable part of the Specialist’s job.

But these challenges are the reason medical coders are in such high demand. The hunt for efficient and accurate coders is fierce. That is why there is more demand for educated and credentialed coders. And what is more, the more experience you have the more your pay will increase.

Even though medical coding may be challenging at first, this does not mean that it can’t be fun in the long run. Many coders think of themselves as private investigators trying to crack a case. Coding and billing is all about being a detective and as such it can be quite enjoyable.

Medical coding also isn’t as isolating as people may think. You can meet the primary doctors you code for and you can also communicate with co-workers throughout the day.

Because the healthcare is currently going through some big changes, now is an ideal time to jump in and learn medical coding. If you’re interested, below are 7 Simple rules for learning Medical Billing and Coding in Record Time.

7 Simple Rules for Learning Medical Billing & Coding Quickly

  1. Be of Good Health

Note that your mental, physical and emotional states will greatly impact your academic performance. Preparation and participation make it easier to succeed in a medical billing and coding online course. Experts believe that you are better able to learn and retain information when you exercise, eat and sleep properly.

Exercise enhances mood and cognitive ability. Being hungry or thirsty is distracting, but so is eating or drinking during class. You can improve your ability to focus by exercising and eating a healthy snack before each online course or on-campus class begins.

Also, an accredited online medical coding course will require you to work at your computer for even longer periods of time than you would in traditional college courses. So develop good siting and working posture. Also stretching and regularly moving will help reduce potential pain and free your attention for listening and learning.

  1. Use flashcards and improve your memorization

No matter how you prefer to take medical billing and coding courses, be it online or at a traditional college, you will be expected to learn medical terminology. That is why using flash cards will help you to learn and retain these terms. You can buy flash card sets for medical terminology and human anatomy, or you can make your own from note cards.

Also, one very important skill you need to have to learn medical billing and coding efficiently is sharp memorization. You will be expected to learn and know medical and anatomical terms and use them properly during exams. When you work on memorizing terms, start with only a few and focus on those for a few minutes.

Then shift to a few new terms, and return to the first set. Repeat this process and enlarge the group of terms that you memorize. At the beginning of every study session, always return to old terms that you memorized earlier to jog your memory and keep your mind sharp.

  1. Play Typing Drills and Keep a Misspelled Word List

Accurate typing is very necessary in the field of medical billing and coding. Students who wish to improve their typing skills can practice using free online typing tests and games that improve speed and accuracy. Also in this line of business, you will be expected to correctly spell and use medical and anatomical terms, and both brick-and-mortar schools will test your ability to do this.

You can improve your spelling by keeping a list of terms that you commonly misspell and then write them multiple times while saying the letters aloud.

  1. Master What You Have and plan your time wisely

A lot of people have all kinds of resources at their disposal, yet never take the time to master any of them. Instead of sitting back and complaining, “If only I had …,” focus on the resources to which you already have access, and improvise to overcome your obstacles.

If you waste time lamenting on what you don’t have, you’ll miss an important opportunity to master what you do have. Budgeting your time carefully will you to be organized and also help you avoid too much stress or keep it at a lower level. It will also help you know how much time is available so as to make it easier to change your plans accordingly. It is however clear that knowing how to budget your available time is critical.

When it comes to assembling an occupation plan, set a most extreme work week of twenty hours, and attempt to space those hours out, as much as could reasonably be expected, so you will have a lot of time to rest between work shifts and also finish school work.

  1. Pay Attention to Detail and Set up a private study place

Noting details is particularly crucial for medical billers and coders because a mistake can delay payment or even impact patients’ health. Colleges and even online course providers will test your ability to memorize and enter codes correctly.

Also when looking to learn medical billing and coding in record time, you will need to create an area designated only for studying. While choosing a study area, keep in mind that it should be an area free from any interruptions.

Make it as simple as possible, with a desk and a chair only. It is important to make sure that the lighting is magnificent so as to avoid any straining of the eye. Also remember to make sure that the temperatures are very conducive for studying.

  1. Interaction and Total Participation

Note that interacting with others in the class improves performance. It’s advisable that you choose a study partner who you can meet or talk with to discuss the course material. When reading or listening to a lecture, note what is not clear to you and ask your study partner or instructor questions about it afterwards. Also note that students who participate in class activities get more out of their classes, and this is equally true of online medical billing courses.

Have it in mind that asking questions and interacting with your instructor or fellow students keeps you alert and helps clarify concepts. If you are taking online classes, try to eliminate any distractions from your environment that will prevent you from actively participating.

  1. Be serious with your school work and stay up to date

By now you should know that class work is the basis of a successful career in medical billing and coding; therefore, it is very pertinent that you take your course work very seriously. Medical billing and coding consist of a vast variety of classes including ICD coding, medical terminology, and anatomy.

Aside all these courses, specialize coding, ICD-10-PCS, and ICD-10-CM and also handling both outpatient and inpatient coding training is also undertaken. That is why doing all assignments and classwork, attending classes as well as giving oneself ample time to study is essential for this career. If you want to have a great career and also learn medical billing and coding in record time, it is advisable you stay up to date in the industry.

It is important that you are up to date with the latest standards and current code system of the industry. There are some very effective ways of staying up to date with the latest developments in the industry such as attending workshops and conferences. They also give you a robust network of other professional workmates.

Ajaero Tony Martins