What Does It Take to Be a Successful MC?
- Interest in all things medical
- Extraordinary attention to detail
- Ability to work without supervision
- Intermediate computer skills
- Ability to maintain confidentiality of personal patient information
- Desire to research and dig deep to find answers to questions
- Have an analytical nature
Strong Growth Predicted
The medical coding profession is projected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations. Due to rapid growth in the number of medical tests, treatments, and procedures that will be increasingly scrutinized by third-party payers, regulators, courts and consumers, the demand for medical coders will continue to increase. (U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011).
The Coder's Paycheck
According to a study done by Advance magazine (October 2012), the median national earnings for CCA credentialed coders is $47,796. Salaries continue to increase. Salaries differ based on experience, credential, type of practice and geographic location.
Coders earning their certification can expect higher salaries than those without certification. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) both sponsor certification exams for medical coders.
The Work Setting
Most medical coders work in hospitals or clinics across the nation and typically work a 40-hour week. Since hospitals are open 24 hours, working hours could vary. Medical coders work in a professional setting and may perform their duties with a team or independently. There is little or no direct contact with patients. Coders adhere to confidentiality guidelines and use medical computer programs to report patient information.
Typical duties for a medical coder may include:
- reading patient charts to extract diagnostic or procedural information
- assigning diagnostic and procedural codes
- communicating with colleagues and physicians to verify information
- completing insurance and government forms
- keeping up to date with changes in reporting guidelines
- maintaining medical knowledge