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How do I Become a Medical Coding Specialist?

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  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 15 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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Becoming a medical coding specialist entails taking the required classes, completing applicable training programs, and passing one or more tests to assess your skill level before applying for jobs through employment agencies, newspaper advertisement, or through online classified ads and job sites. Classes and training are available through a variety of resources. Adult education classes, junior colleges, and online training are readily available to all at many pricing levels. You should be sure the training you seek is an exact match for the work being sought, as there are different requirements for each job.

In the US, most companies require proof of successful completion of a Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) designation course or Accredited Record Technician (ART) certification. The American Health Information Management Association issues both, and they adhere to the Association's requirements and guidelines. They include learning the intricacies of conformity with the American Medical Association's Current Procedural Terminology manual (CPT) and the International Classification of Diseases Manual – Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM), both areas of which most medical coding specialists must be fluent in applying to their work.

In lieu of these educational documents, some companies may accept two years of medical record coding experience. Other firms may consider candidates who have an acceptable mixture of training, education, and/or direct experience in medical coding. Occasionally, a company may be willing to train a candidate while they are completing courses for ultimate certification.

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A medical coding specialist may work alone in a business office, in a home office, or with a pool of specialists in a traditional office environment. Most do not work onsite at a medical facility, as most coding and transcription services are third party contractors. Some medical coding services are part of larger medical billing service firms.

Above average attention to detail is a requirement to be a successful medical coding specialist. This is required for tasks including verifying the accuracy and completeness of medical charts, verifying medical data on the computer, authenticating signatures, and conducting oral and written communications with healthcare providers to confirm report data. Familiarity with popular and industry-specific software programs is preferred.

Some larger medical coding or billing companies require their employees to be fluent in specific diseases or particular medical department lingo and terminology. After a period of employment, a medical coding specialist may be promoted into a supervisory position overseeing medical clerks and transcriptionists. Regardless of the coding firm or the job responsibilities, this career is one of few in the medical industry that does not require any direct interaction with patients.

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