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.