Becoming a Certified Coding Specialist
Certified Coding Specialists play an important role in the medical documentation process. They are dedicated to translate medical terminology into a numerical code used for various purposes such as timely insurance reimbursement, proper diagnosis and treatment of the patients, accurate maintenance of patients’ medical histories etc. They also act as liaison between the patients and the service providers including medical staff and the insurance companies.
These professionals are expertise with Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) and the International Classification of Diseases Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) in order to convert the terminology into numerical codes accurately. They also possess a good deal of knowledge in various diseases, medical terminology, pharmacology, hospital procedures and medications.
Certified Coding Specialists work at variety of settings such as public and private hospitals, physician offices, nursing care facilities, surgery centers, mental health facilities, rehabilitation centers, research institutions, independent billing and coding services, consulting firms, insurance companies etc. These professionals often work full time and may need to serve overnight and weekend shifts.
To become a Certified Coding Specialist, aspiring candidates have to earn a two-year associate’s degree program in medical coding and billing. The students can pursue a 4-year degree program in this field to find better job opportunities.
These professionals study the topics of anatomy, medical terminology, physiology, ethics etc. They also learn health data management, medical billing practices, procedure coding, health record maintenance and information technology.
Certified Coding Specialists can earn an examination-based certification from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Apart from clinical knowledge, Certified Coding Specialists possess variety of skills such as understanding of reimbursement methods and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), high medical ethics, ability to work with accuracy, tolerance to spend long hours sitting at a desk on the computer, effective communications and interpersonal skills, excellent computer skills etc.
Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for a Certified Coding Specialist remains excellent in USA. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise 22% from 2012 to 2022. The average annual salary of a Certified Coding Specialist was $34,970 in 2013.