At a time when the healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S. with a projected increase of around 2 million new jobs by 2031, it’s not surprising there are so many people looking for careers in healthcare. If you’re among the folks trying to break into the healthcare industry but don’t particularly enjoy the idea of working in a clinical capacity, there are a variety of roles that are critical to keeping the giant machine of healthcare going but aren’t patient-facing or clinical in nature. One such career path is working in medical billing and coding. And one of the benefits of a career in medical billing and coding is the ability to work remotely, which is practically the new normal in today’s marketplace.
But what is medical billing and coding, what would you actually be doing, and how do you know if it’s the right path for you? To help you better understand your options, let’s break it down.
What is Medical Billing and Coding?
Every single healthcare facility is also – a business. And like all businesses, there are functions and business processes that keep everything operating smoothly. The healthcare and health insurance industries use a billing shorthand or coding to identify just about every procedure, medication, surgery or anything else you might encounter on a routine visit to your doctor, a trip to the er or any other healthcare facility.
Also referred to as health information technicians, the professionals who input this information electronically record data for collection, storage, analysis, retrieval, and reporting. Using healthcare specific classification software to assign clinical codes for insurance reimbursement and data analysis, they also review patients’ records for timeliness, completeness, accuracy, and appropriateness of data, while meticulously maintaining patient confidentiality.
Typical Duties of Health Information Technicians
- Reviewing patients’ records to make sure they are complete and accurate.
- Maintaining and organizing data for registries and clinical databases.
- Tracking patients’ outcomes to make quality assessments.
- Assigning codes for data analysis and insurance reimbursement by using classification software.
- Recording data electronically for reporting, retrieval, analysis, storage and collection.
- Keeping patients’ records confidential.
What Skills do you Need to Work in Medical Billing and Coding?
Because they manage confidential patient records and data, and must comply with HIPAA regulations, health information technicians above all else must be highly ethical. But because many technicians work remotely, it is also important to be self-disciplined and able to work with little or no supervision. Being detail-oriented with strong analytical, interpersonal and technical skills is also a plus for health information technicians.
What is the Curriculum Like in a Medical Billing and Coding Program?
Most health information technician training programs can be completed in 10- 18 months, and cover basic office skills like keyboarding, computer applications and medical records management. But you’ll also receive training in anatomy, physiology, as well as, HIPAA regulations, medical ethics, medical insurance billing, and classification and coding systems. In some instances, a high school diploma and experience in a healthcare setting is enough to qualify for some medical billing and coding positions. But completing a certificate or degree program in medical billing and coding can help you access more opportunities in the field.
Health Records Information Technician Certification
Many employers (particularly government entities) require RHIT certification (Registered Health Information Technician) health information technician’s to be certified through The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). To be eligible to take the RHIT certification exam, candidates must meet one of the following requirements:
- Successful completion of the academic requirements, at an associate degree level, of a Health Information Management (HIM) program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM)
- Graduate from an HIM program approved by a foreign association with which AHIMA has a reciprocity agreement
Why Choose a Career as a Health Information Technician
There are a number of excellent reasons to pursue a career as a health information technician.
- Job security: The truth is that all healthcare careers are in-demand and projected to continue being in demand over the next decade. But jobs for health information technicians in particular are estimated to increase by 7% by 2031, and that doesn’t include the approximately 14,900 projected openings annually as a result of workers retiring or changing industries.
- Work from home options –Not every health information technician job is remote, but there are plenty that do offer a work from home option. There are also many healthcare facilities that need billing and coding services 24/7. So, if you’re looking for flexible options where you can literally work in your pajamas, this could be a great fit!
- Quick entry into the workforce – Most medical billing and coding programs can be completed in less than 24 months, putting you on the fast track to earning much sooner than a traditional four-year university education.
- You’ll be part of an industry that is all about helping others – You don’t have to be on the front lines of healthcare to be a valuable part of a medical team. The work you’ll be doing is essential to keeping a healthcare organization running like a well-oiled machine.
- A career as a health information technician pays well – The average wage for health information technicians as of 2021 was $46,660 with the highest 10% earning more than $74,200! What’s not to love about a career that pays well and has long-term stability?
It’s a great time to be in the healthcare industry. With an aging population and an increasing demand for workers from across the spectrum of the industry, the future looks incredibly bright. And if you’re looking for a rewarding career with job security and great earning potential that is more behind the scenes – becoming a health information could be the ideal role for your future.
To learn more about careers in medical billing and coding, please visit the U.S. Career Institute for a list of accredited programs in your area.