Is Medical Coding a Dying Career?
Suppose you’re a medical coder or perhaps thinking of getting your medical coding certification. In that case, you may be wondering if advancing technology – i.e. artificial intelligence (AI) – is about to make you obsolete.
The short answer for those in the medical coding and medical billing fields is “no.”
The fact is, a coder continues to be in high demand – especially those who have completed a Medical Coding Certification program. That’s because nearly every healthcare provider uses coded documentation and records. In fact, a single hospital may have several coders working at any given time. But that doesn’t mean technology won’t change things a bit – in this case, for the better.
Coders: Embrace the Technology
Being a coding specialist requires a mixture of human analytical skills with or without technology. Current and future coders should embrace the technological advancements headed their way. Technology is already affecting this field and making tedious tasks easier than ever. For example, in the future, an experienced coder won’t have to spend hours each day working simple charts. Similarly, those just starting out should be able to get feedback on the simple mistakes they make in real-time in order to learn.
Responsibilities are Changing
Currently, medical coders are experiencing shifts in their responsibilities, and for many, that means becoming more specialized. Coders were already specialized between facility and clinical, but their focus is becoming even more granular.
For example, Ambulatory Surgery Centers (ASC) are actively pursuing individuals who specialize in orthopedics, gastroenterology, OB/GYN and neurology coding. The demand for coding specialists is so high that it’s the main reason there’s market growth for this career.
Opportunities are Being Created
The fact is, the skills that medical coders develop over the course of their career are translatable into other healthcare information technology (IT) areas.
For example, a coder works with protected health information (PHI) in order to accurately communicate with insurance companies. Working with PHI means they need to fully understand and be compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
This means that coders have advanced, first-hand knowledge of how one of the most encompassing laws work – allowing the opportunity to pivot to a position in compliance management or auditing within a healthcare organization.
Opening the Door to Claim Denial Management
Another example of how medical coders can transfer their skills involves denial management. Insurance claim denials cost hospitals and practices around $262 billion per year. So how can a coder help in this process?
Coders have access to the complete medical record. These records include details about the entire patient encounter. Denial management is an aspect of the revenue cycle that starts at registration, happens through discharge, and ends during collection.
The Medical Coding Job Outlook
While it’s impossible to predict the future with 100% accuracy, like most jobs in the healthcare industry, careers in medical coding and medical billing are growing.
As the population ages, people will need more medical care. The increase in these services means an increase in medical record updates and more insurance claims to process. Even with changes in technology, more healthcare claims can translate to rising demand for a coder’s skill set. And since healthcare employers are increasingly using electronic systems to run their practices, they’ll need qualified people who know how to use this technology. And that’s you!
Whether you’re new to medical coding, or an experienced professional looking for that next great challenge, contact us and learn how a partnership with AMN Healthcare RCS can enhance your career!