Medical Coder

What Does a Medical Coder Do?
Health information technology is immensely important to the smooth operation of any health care facility. Medical coders, also commonly known as health information technicians, are responsible for the management of valuable health information. Electronic means of
keeping health records, dubbed electronic health records (EHRs), are becoming more prevalent. Medical coders use computers and EHR software to organize and update files on patient medical history, symptoms, diagnostic tests, treatments, examination results, and other information that help physicians provide the best possible care. This information helps physicians and coders track the patterns of symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis, an accurate picture of the progression of disease or the effectiveness of treatments, and other trends that can lend insight into a patient’s condition. Some medical coders work primarily in health care insurance reimbursements. They track diagnoses and procedures for each patient and determine how much the health care facility will be reimbursed by the patient’s health insurance program.

What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for a Medical Coder?
Health care is one of the most stable and improving industries in the work force today. There will always be a need for health care professionals due to the complexity of treating the human body, the unpredictability of disease and injury, and the inevitability of aging and age-related conditions. Due to this ongoing need, health-related jobs will continue to grow as the population grows and medical technology advances. In particular, advancements in medical and computational technology will keep medical coders in high demand. As more patients flood health care facilities due to the general increase in population, medical coders will be needed to keep the facilities running efficiently. Employment opportunities for medical coders are expected to increase 20 percent through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Medical coders earn an average salary of $30,610 annually, according to the most current information available from the Bureau.

How Can I Become a Medical Coder?
Aspiring medical coders must obtain an associate degree from an accredited program in medical records and health information. Associate degrees typically take about two years to earn, during which time students will take courses in medical terminology, data analysis, clinical classification and coding systems, and other classes that are designed to make students more proficient in the health care coding field. Many programs have students practice on computers to train them to use the same EHR software that is found in many health care facilities. After completing the associate degree program, prospective medical coders have the option of becoming credentialed. Although credentialing is not required, most employers prefer to hire those who are credentialed. Various agencies offer credentialing, most of which require that program graduates pass an examination and participate in continuing education programs. For example, program graduates can seek credentialing from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) or the Board of Medical Specialty Coding (BMSC).