What does a medical coder do?

A medical coder will have, generally, the same sort of duties no matter what type of facility they’re employed in. From clinics to hospitals to physicians’ offices, medical billers and coders use medical codes to document patient diagnoses and treatments.

Specifically, their duties include:

  • Reading and analyzing patient records
  • Determining the correct codes for patient records
  • Using codes to bill insurance providers
  • Interacting with physicians and assistants to ensure accuracy
  • Keeping track of patient data over multiple visits
  • Managing detailed, specifically-coded information
  • Maintaining patient confidentiality and information security

While many medical billers and coders do work on-site in hospitals and clinics, they’re typically far-removed from where patient care is taking place. While you will be required to interact and communicate with physicians and assistants to a certain degree, much of your work will be independent from everything else that goes on in a health care facility.

It is also important to become familiar with different types of insurance plans, regulations, and compliance. The coding community has three critical resource books: CPT®, HCPCS Level II and ICD-10-CM along with their corresponding codes and guidelines. Using code books the medical coder assigns correct codes to record the service levels for the procedures performed and to account for supplies used to treat the patient during an encounter with the physician. Proper assignment of ICD-10-CM codes corresponds with the physician’s diagnoses and completes the “story” of the patient’s illness or injury.

How do I become a Medical Coder?

What is required is a solid understanding of anatomy, physiology and medical terminology. It is also highly recommended for serious coders to complete a medical coding course of study, pass the CPC or and earn their certification as a Certified Professional Coder, or pass the CCA exam and earn the certificate to become a Certified Coding Associate. Arapahoe Community College offers a 12-month, online, AHIMA-approved course which prepares students for either certification.

Where do I begin?

Attend an upcoming monthly information session at Arapahoe Community College Parker Campus. You can enroll anytime @ careerstep.com/acc or call Trena Green at (303) 734-3777.

by Lisa Lehn Mostek, MT/MCB Advisor, ACC Workforce Training