Medical Coding Profession
Delivering quality healthcare depends on capturing accurate and timely medical data. Medical coding professionals fulfill this need as key players in the healthcare workplace.
The medical coding professional (or coder) is responsible for translating healthcare providers’ diagnostic and procedural phrases into coded form. Coding professionals do this by reviewing and analyzing health records to identify relevant diagnoses and procedures for distinct patient encounters. This translation process requires interaction with the healthcare provider to ensure terms are translated correctly.
Coding professionals must possess a thorough understanding of the health record’s content in order to find information to support or provide specificity for coding. Certified medical coders are trained in the anatomy and physiology of the human body and disease processes in order to understand the etiology, pathology, symptoms, signs, diagnostic studies, treatment modalities, and prognosis of diseases and procedures to be coded. The job entails much more than simply locating diagnostic and procedural phrases in the coding manuals or with encoder software. It requires knowledge of disease processes and procedural techniques to consistently apply the correct codes. A medical coding professional works as part of a team to achieve the best quality patient care.
AHIMA supports multiple certifications, providing both personal validation and confirmation of professional competence for employers and consumers. Learn more about AHIMA certifications.
Medical coding professionals work in a variety of healthcare settings, including inpatient and outpatient healthcare settings and non-provider settings such as third-party payers and healthcare software vendors.
Typical medical coding professional job descriptions include:
Related jobs, employing similar record analysis and coding skills, include:
Nationwide, there is a shortage of certified medical coders in hospitals, physician practices, and other healthcare facilities. According to the United States Bureau of Labor, employment of medical record and health information technicians is expected to grow much faster than the average field.
Each year, AHIMA collects professional data from its credentialed members as part of the annual membership cycle. Review the AHIMA 2008 Salary Study to find out additional information on trends in the health information management (HIM) industry, including medical coder salaries.
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