The complexities of modern health care have made it necessary to electronically record vital information about the care of virtually every patient. This has also created the need for a specific system of recording and tracking information to satisfy insurance billing protocols and patient privacy standards. To that end, a type of data entry shorthand was devised known as medical billing and coding. Since clinicians are fully engaged in providing medical services, most hospitals and physician’s offices routinely employ office specialists with medical billing and coding certification to facilitate record keeping of each medical diagnosis, procedures implemented, and billing related to these events.
While there is no regulatory authority that dictates that a medical billing and coding specialist must be certified, it’s generally understood that formal certification is highly desirable. For one thing, medical settings tend to be very busy environments, affording little time for employers and staff to provide on-the-job training. For another, medical billing and coding is quite detail-oriented, with a specific code being designated for every human ailment ever endured or corrective procedure conceived and accuracy is imperative to avoid costly mistakes. This is what makes medical billing and coding certification a specialization, as well serving as a valid demonstration of the skill and knowledge of the employee. This means that certification also translates to a higher earning capacity.
Most community colleges offer medical billing and coding certification programs, with either fully matriculated enrollment or part-time in an adult continuing education setting. In addition, there are a few nationally recognized organizations that provide training and certification. For instance, The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offers different levels of medical billing and coding certification for those with previous experience or who are seeking certification in a specialized area of medicine. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers certification for those newly entering the field.
Another consideration is that medical billing and coding certification lends itself well to online study. Of course, it would be prudent to check into the reputation, references, and accreditation of the administrating online university or training program. That said, pursuing medical billing and coding certification online might be an attractive option to those already working full-time, including those planning to change careers. Going this route also permits study at one’s own pace. Generally speaking, online medical billing and coding certification can usually be obtained within 18 to 24 months, while on-site study may take two or more years to complete.