March 1, 2012

How to choose the right online medical billing and coding school

If you're thinking of becoming a medical coder, you'll find it's rather daunting to choose an online school. What should I look for in an online course and how do I know I'm getting the best education, might be some of the things you're thinking. For someone who doesn't have any type of medical background, you really won't know if the online course you've chosen is the best until you sit for your coding exams. And for those with a medical background, it might be just as difficult for you. So how can you tell if the online medical and billing school is the best choice for you.

Here are some of the things you should look for when considering a medical coding and billing course:
A thorough Medical terminology curriculum. You will have to understand how medical terms are constructed and what they mean. A good medical terminology course will teach you about prefixes, root words, and suffixes. Once completed, you should be able to dissect medical terms that you've never seen before and understand what they mean.

You'll need to learn about Healthcare structure and reimbursement. It will amaze you to learn how hospitals and clinics are reimbursed for the services they provide. Understanding these things will enable to learn how important your role is as a medical biller and coder.

Confidentiality and ethics is another important factor in regards to medical billing and coding. You'll need to learn and understand HIPPA laws and how they impact medical coding and billing. New laws are being devised based on the new ways in which health care is practiced and how health information is being accessed.

You'll need a firm understanding of anatomy & physiology and pharmacology. Understanding the various body systems, how they function, the diseases that affect them and how various diseases are treated, along with medications and prescribed drugs will enable you to select the correct codes.

Medical record types and formats are an important part of the medical setting. Various reports such as the History and Physical, consults, and operative reports just to name a few are what make up a patient’s medical record. Understanding the various parts of a medical record will teach you how to navigate for pertinent coding information.

And of course you'll need to learn diagnostic and procedural coding. You might be familiar with hearing about ICD-9, ICD-10, and CPT codes. You'll need to learn the difference between the two along with how to code them, but most importantly what to look for in coding them. This will require a lot of hands-on practice. You don't just want to sit in a classroom and read about codes and practice a couple out of the ICD and CPT handbooks. What you'll want is hours and hours of practice, because that's the only way you're going to know how to code.

Career Step provides their students with 250 actual outpatient medical records and 75 authentic inpatient records to code and more. With over 300 charts to code, I think you'll know how to code, don't you? Actual hands-on coding doesn't occur in a lot of classroom or online courses. Whether you're considering an online course or studying at a local college, you'll want to ask upfront if you'll be coding real patient records. If not, you might want to keep looking.

Check out the schools testimonial page. When students have a good experience with an online school, they like to share it. This is true for bad experiences as well. See what others are saying about their experience during and after course completion. If there's no testimonial page, see if there's a forum, if so visit and see what others are doing. You can learn a lot about a school in a student forum.

Last, but not least, be sure the school is accredited and the course is AHIMA approved. It's also a good idea that the course was developed and is being taught by actual coders. Before committing to an online program or local college, do thorough research of the course curriculum and it's developers. If the course was designed by someone who's never coded a chart in their life, would you really want to learn from them? There are a lot of sources offering training in medical billing and coding. Students spend their hard earned money on these courses only to find that they're not employable nor able to pass the coding exam. What ever course or path you choose in becoming a medical coder, I wish you the best of luck.

February 5, 2012

Is Medical Transcription a dying career?

Many are now saying to forget about working as a medical transcriptionist due to the explosive impact that voice recognition software has had on medical transcription. So does this mean that the career is a dead end? For those who have never worked as a medical transcriptionist or in the non-clinical health
care field, you’re not aware of how the process of documentation works.

When a patient is treated in a medical facility, their visit has to be documented; this is done either by hand in a written format, dictated and transcribed or through the use of voice recognition software. If the document is hand written, it has to be placed in the medical record. For documents that are transcribed, they either enter directly into the patient’s electronic chart via an electronic interface or the document is printed and placed in a paper based chart. With voice recognition, the document is opened in the electronic medical record and typed as the physician speaks. As you can see, with the electronic medical record, documentation is becoming a process that seems to be hands off.  However, there are instances that occur behind the scenes that make having qualified medical transcriptionists a necessity.

Currently, the federal electronic medical record mandate has a deadline for year 2015. This mandate is in effect based on legislation enacted by President Barack Obama that requires all medical facilities to have an electronic platform for storing patient records. Since not all medical facilities are utilizing the electronic medical record, documentation is still being completed in written format. Transcriptionists are needed to transcribe dictated physicians reports. If any errors are found, the medical transcriptionist is responsible for correcting them. If blanks are found in the dictated document, the transcription editor will have to listen to the dictated report to see if any blanks can be filled in.

There are instances when errors in documentation occur. With the electronic medical record, each patient visit is assigned an account number. Physicians will at times dictate into the wrong patient account. These reports will have to be removed from the incorrect account and placed into the right one. These corrections will be done by the transcription department within the medical facility. Transcription editors and/or transcriptionists will make corrections that are needed.

The language of medical transcription is complex and filled with word oddities. There are words that sound alike and spelled in a similar manner, but have different meanings, for example, ileum (which is a portion of the small intestine) and ilium (which is a portion of the hip bone) sound just alike, are spelled alike with the exception of one vowel, but have totally different meanings. There are many words in the medical language just like this. When a physician dictates ileum/ilium, the word recognition software doesn’t know which word the physician means to have entered. This is where a MT will come in. They will need to review the report once complete to make the necessary changes, hence the movement toward transcription editors.

Although medical documentation is created in a health care setting, there are also places that medical transcriptionists work that are outside of this setting. Many MTs work for insurance companies and lawyers. There are also private medical practices and clinics that utilize MTs. Some physician’s offices still like the hands on approach. They don’t want their transcribed reports going all the way to India to be transcribed. These physicians hire local transcriptionists who have their own businesses to transcribe for them. Technology is changing the face of health care documentation, but the need for qualified medical transcriptionists is not a thing of the past. There will still be a need for medical transcriptionists. Computer programs can do wonders, but there’s nothing that compares to the humanistic qualities of a highly trained medical transcriptionist.

Here is a small list of medical terms that sound alike. Don’t tell me Medical Transcription is dead! No matter how great the computer program is, it can’t make decisions or read minds.

Abduction - Adduction
Absorption - Adsorption
Achymosis - Ecchymosis
Affect - Effect
Aphagia - Aphasia
Appose - Oppose
Arteriosclerosis - Arteriostenosis - Atherosclerosis
Aural - Oral
Bare - Bear
Basal - Basil
Bases - Basis
Caculus - Calculous
Callous - Callus
Facial - Fascial
Glans - Glands
Iluem - Ilium

Just is just a few.  To see a complete list click here.  Do you see now that Medical Transcriptionists are still needed?  I think their futures are pretty solid. 


January 27, 2012

What type of background does it help to have to become a medical transcriptionist

One question that is often asked is “What type of background does it help to have to become a medical transcriptionist?”

When pondering a new career, it’s a good idea to have some type of general knowledge and/or experience in what you’ll be doing.  But of course this isn’t always the case.  With the present economy, a lot of individuals are working in jobs they weren’t trained to work in nor were educated for.  Whether you have a background in health care or not, the right Medical Transcription training program will more than prepare you.  Upon completion of your course, you should be able to start work immediately.  That’s how extensive your training should be!

Medical transcription education courses will refresh you in English grammar, but you’ll also learn medical transcription, anatomy and physiology, keyboarding, various medical specialties, and transcribe hundreds of actual dictated reports.  Having some knowledge of any of these things is a plus. 

Here are a few areas that will benefit your studies and enable you to excel in your MT training:
Experience working in the health care field as a; nurse, health-unit coordinator (unit clerk), medical record analyst, medical assistant, physician, physician’s assistant, medical coder or anyone with previous experience in clinical and non-clinical health care will be a great asset to the medical transcription field. 

Also, if you have a strong interest in science, biology, and an overall interest in the human body and its systems, love computers and would like to work in health care, medical transcription might be the career for you.  Do not stress about your background or place emphasis on your lack of knowledge of anything medical, the proper training will prepare you for a career as a Medical Transcriptionist.

January 22, 2012

Start a New Career as a Medical transcriptionist

Start a NEW Career
Medical transcription is a very interesting and rewarding career. People become motivated about medical transcription for many different reasons; they become medical transcriptionists so they can WORK FROM HOME, earn a great income, avoid long commutes and costly daycare, have job security in a growing market, or enjoy more quality time with family. Whatever your personal reasons for looking into medical transcription, know that Career Step is your best resource for training and support to prepare you to confidently step into a new career as a medical transcriptionist.

Benefits of Becoming a Medical Transcriptionist
Job security in a growing market
Rewarding, interesting work
High demand and high income
Comfortable, home-based career
The Job of the Medical Transcriptionist

What Medical Transcriptionists Do
Medical transcriptionists translate doctor-dictated audio files into an electronic typed format for documentation. Generally, medical transcriptionists sit at a computer and listen to audio files through a headset and type the dictation into a word processor. Career Step's Medical Transcription Training Program has an abundance of actual doctor-dictated audio files that you will transcribe. As you go through the course, you will be doing real medical transcription work. Career Step training prepares you for the "real world" of medical transcription.

Work From Home!
Because of the nature of the work, most medical transcriptionists are able to work from home. A recent survey of medical transcriptionists in the United States indicated that approximately 83% of all transcriptionists work at home. Let Career Step's quality Medical Transcription Training Program help you learn the secrets of working at home and making a great income.

January 1, 2012

How long do I have to train to become a Medical Transcriptionist

One of the most common questions that is asked by someone who is interested in becoming a medical transcriptionist is how long does it take to train to become a medical transcriptionist?  The length of training depends upon where you train.  There are distance education programs that you learn at your own pace, as well as, courses that are taught at local colleges. 

Most online MT programs allow a year to two years to complete.  However, if more time is needed, you can always file an extension.  Medical transcription programs that are taught at local colleges usually require a year to two years to complete.  The type of degree that is awarded upon completion also determines the amount of time it takes to complete.  Some colleges have broadened their scope of training.  They don’t just teach Medical Transcription.  Some colleges have adapted to the title of Health Services or Medical Office Administration.  These associate degree programs will require two years of study. 

With an A.A. degree course, you’ll have to take general core classes before beginning those that are degree specific, along with electives.  One of the colleges near me requires completion in the following courses before you can become a medical transcriptionist:
General Ed  
English Comp I & II
Degree Specific 
Business Law
Microcomputer Applications
Spreadsheet Concepts for Business
Intro to Health Information Management
Health Care Law
Intro to Health Care Delivery System
Medical Terminology
Principles of Management
Human Resource Management
Professional Development in the Work Environment
Microsoft Word for Windows
Business Communications
MS Office Pro
Electives (choose 10 credit hours)
Principles of Financial Accounting
Human Anatomy & Physiology I & II
Human Anatomy & Physiology Lab I & II
Intro to Business
Health Information Systems
Health Care Billing & Reimbursement
Medical Coding for the Health Care Industry
Concepts of Disease
Medical Transcription I & II

Keep in mind that not all institutions of higher learning require such intensive study.  Some teach just the minimal amount of information needed where they can receive funding.  Yet and still, you’re left without your hard earned money and proper training.  If you intend to further your education beyond that of an A.A. or if you would one day become a medical transcription department manager or Health Information director, this two year degree course is just the thing for you.  You may even want to become a RHIT (registered health information technician).  But, if your desire is to train in the shortest amount of time and become an employed medical transcriptionist, Career Step is the perfect place to train and here’s why!

The A.A. degree course will prepare you for a broad range of jobs in the heath information management field.  You can become a medical transcriptionist with the A.A. degree but as stated, it will take two years to complete.  And that’s if you attend full time.  Career Step focuses on the meat and potatoes of transcription.  You will learn exactly what you need to know to transcribe.  As a working full-time MT, you won’t need to know business law.   Here is what Career Step will teach you.  In a year or less you can be working as a medical transcriptionist.

Program Orientation
Technology & the Medical Professional
Keyboard Kinetics
Medical Word Building
Grammar & Punctuation
Anatomy & Physiology Block I & II
Mastering Medical Language
Healthcare Documentation
Diagnostic Reports
Focus on Medical Specialties
Midterm Exam
Perfect the Text
Introduction to Transcription
Clinic Notes
Enhancing Productivity
Basic Acute Care
Advanced Acute Care
Final Exam Preparation

Note the focus of the Career Step course, the human body and transcription.
  Did you know that the Career Step course was created by actual medical transcriptionists?  Who better to learn from?  Sometimes we fear things that aren’t tangible and wonder how good a course is that’s learned online from people we’ve never met.  The creator of Career Step (Andrea Anaya) shares her experience and knowledge of the MT world.  I invite you to request the FREE information packet to see what Career Step is all about.  Just think, six months from now you can be working in your pajamas! 

December 22, 2011

Become a Medical Coder

Discover Medical Coding
Medical Coding is one of the fastest growing professions in the country.   Let Career Step's quality Medical Coding Training Program help you learn what it takes to enter this exciting career field and earn a great income. Enroll in Career Step's Medical Coding course to STUDY AT HOME, at work, or on the go for a rewarding, in-demand career in the growing medical industry!

Benefits of Becoming a Medical Coder
In-demand career
Professional career path
Exciting and challenging work
Excellent income
Job security
Comfortable and professional work environment

CAREER Opportunities
Employment at a local clinic or hospital as an outpatient coder
Work in-house for insurance companies, auditing reports submitted by clinics or hospitals
Contract or full-time employee with a consulting company or a CPA firm as a traveling auditor

Medical coders work with medical records documents and patient charts. They are responsible for identifying diagnostic and procedural information and converting this information into simplified numerical codes that can be electronically processed for payment by 3rd party payers such as Insurance companies and Medicare.

Career Step has an extremely comprehensive program of study that will enable you to have all of the required skills to work as a medical coder.  The course is structured with programmed learning, meaning each new concept builds upon the previous, making learning interesting and fun.  The course prepares you for real work as a medical coder and graduates are Certificate Ready and very well prepared to meet and exceed requirements for AHIMA and AAPC certification exams.  How many programs can make that claim?  Discover what Medical Coding is all about.

December 1, 2011

Where can I work as a Medical Transcriptionist

A lot of people who are interested in medical transcription as a career already have an idea of where they want to work.  The majority of medical transcriptionists are women.  A lot of these women have young children and desire to work at home.  But, there are many interesting places to work as a medical transcriptionist.

Once you’ve achieved the required education and/or work experience you’ll be able to work in a hospital, doctor’s office, transcription service, at home, and as your own boss.  Let’s take a brief look at what a transcriptionist would be responsible for in each role.  Note, there are multiple places one can work as an MT, but we’ll explore the most common.

Hospital – Here you’d be in either an office that’s dedicated to transcription or within the hospital’s medical record department.  You’ll type a variety of report types such as:  history & physicals, discharge summaries, consultations, operative reports, pathology and laboratory reports, emergency department reports, along with radiology and cardiology reports.  In some facilities, you’ll have to manually place the printed transcribed report on the patient’s record.  For those facilities with the electronic medical record, the reports will be stored in the patient’s chart electronically – no paper needed.

Doctor’s office – Working in a doctor’s office can be ideal for the transcriptionist.  Here you’ll get to know each physician you work for.  You’ll learn their particular style of dictating, which helps to reduce errors and increase production time.  If you’re working in a specialty clinic, let’s say obstetrics and gynecology, you’ll only be typing reports that deal with that particular medical specialty.  As you can see, it may be less stressful to work at a physician’s office versus a hospital or transcription service.

In the doctor’s office, you’ll be responsible for placing all transcribed reports into each patient’s chart.  A lot of physician’s offices are converting to the electronic medical record, in which case, the transcribed reports will be uploaded into the patient’s chart in a digital format.  Since you’re responsible for transcribing, you’ll have to be sure each report is accurate and complete, you will have to edit your own work, and fill in any blanks.  That’s another plus to working in a physician’s office, the doctor is right there to answer your questions regarding their dictated voice file.

Transcription Service – Working for a transcription service is a great opportunity for the transcriptionist who wants to broaden her exposure to various medical specialties.  When working at a transcription service, you will be responsible for transcribing reports of all types.  It is possible that you will be assigned to a particular hospital or medical facility.  However, it’s more than likely that you’ll have various accounts that you’ll transcribe for.  Some transcription services may have offices throughout the US or be in one particular location.  You will either work onsite or in the comfort of your home.  A lot of graduates of the Career Step medical transcription training program find employment with a transcription service and are able to work from home.

Home based transcription -  Home based transcription is centered around a transcription service, but isn't limited to just that.  Home based transcriptionists can also be employed by a hospital, clinic, doctor's office or other facility, yet work at home.  The home based transcriptionist works independently.  Assistance when needed is via phone or email support.  When working for a transcription service, you'll receive dictated sound files that are located within the transcription companies computer sound files.  You will need internet access in order to hear the voice files.  You'll be able to increase or decrease the speed of the recorded file via foot pedal.  Once you have transcribed the report, you will then return the sound file to the company for editing or it will be sent straight to the facility and printed or stored in a patient's electronic medical record.  It works somewhat like email.  There are usually two files in queue.  When one is complete and uploaded, another is ready to be transcribed, while another is sent in the background.  Some companies will equip you with a computer system, but with recent advancements in technology, your personal computer system can be used.  Working from home is challenging, but there's nothing like working in your pajamas.     

Self-employed transcriptionist -  You’re bold to take on this role!  But you might find that it’s one of the best ways to work as a medical transcriptionist.  First of all, all the money you earn goes into your pocket.  When you work onsite, you’re most likely to be paid per hour or per line.  For most transcription services, you’re paid per line.  The average rate per line pay is 7-12¢.  However, when working for a service, you’re only paid a percentage of this amount.  It’s usually 7¢.  The other 5 cents belongs to the service that hired you.  This is how the service makes their money.  But, as a self-employed transcriptionist, you earn the full 12 cents per line.  And so that you know, a line consists of 65 typed characters (including spaces and punctuation). 

As a self-employed transcriptionist, you’re able to set your own hours.  You work when you want and as much as you want.  You can work for one doctor or work for 10 doctors; the choice is yours.  You’ll be able to know your physicians and become so knowledgeable of their transcription style.  You can create templates for each physician, which will increase your production and pay, yet have you typing less.  If you increase your clientele, you can also hire other transcriptionist to work for you.  You could potentially quit typing and just manage your company.  The potential for growth and excellent income is up to you.             

As a medical transcriptionist you may also find employment in the following places: laboratories, home health care services, medical centers, colleges and universities, medical libraries, insurance companies, temp agencies, and even veterinary facilities.  The opportunities are endless!