According to the "United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)," the employment outlook for medical records and health information technicians (also known as Medical Billers and Coders) "should be very good, particularly for technicians with strong computer software skills." Therefore, while courses in this field of study are centered around the basic skills a medical biller or coder would need to succeed, proficient use of medical billing/coding software and computers in general are other requirements that should be sought prior to seeking certification, but can also be obtained through on-the-job training.
HIPAA + Law & Ethics
In addition to an introductory course on “Medical Billing & Coding”, a course on the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)” and “Law & Ethics” is provided to students.
HIPAA laws are in place to ensure personal health information is protected and this course will explain the techniques used across the healthcare industry, and in the job of the medical coder/biller to protect sensitive information such as social security numbers and diagnosis codes.
In terms of Law & Ethics, the most recent federal laws will be discussed on a job role specific level. Aspiring billers and coders would learn how to recognize conflicts of interest and what current laws are in place in their field of study.
Billing & Reimbursement + Reimbursement & Follow-Up
Sample medical insurance claim forms will be handed out (or sent electronically) to students, and the use for each field will be identified. In addition to this, an overview on the top medical insurance carriers will be provided.
Students would then be taught reimbursement and follow-up procedures (calls to insurance companies are usually placed if claim payments have not been received within a certain time frame).
Diagnostic Coding (ICD9)
An overview of why and how diagnosis codes are used would be provided, along with how to locate them on sample medical documents. Steps used to code written diagnoses and the guidelines in place for each body system will also be shared with students.
Procedural Coding (CPT)
An overview of why and how procedure codes are used would be provided, along with how to locate them and formulate them using sample medical documents. Different categories of coding will also be taught and discussed, such as Evaluation & Management Coding, Radiology Coding and Anesthesia Coding.
Employment & Certification
Once all coursework is completed employment seeking strategies would often be discussed. This is the final stretch in coding and billing studies and preparatory materials would be provided to students such as a certification handbook and study guide, in preparation for the "National Health Careers Association" certification exam or the "American Academy of Professional Coders" credentialing exam (offering varies by school).
According to the BLS, the majority of employers prefer "credentialed medical record and health information technicians."