A General Overview of Medical Billing and Coding

Medical billing and coding are often referred to as a single term; however, in terms of employment and specific roles they are very different. Both are in high demand because of the changing face of medical institutions. More and more hospitals, clinics and other healthcare establishments are recognizing the important role of technology in their industry. With vast amounts of patient data being transferred from one building to another, and in many cases one country to another, it is important that this information is dealt with efficiently.

What Is Medical Billing?

Medical billing professionals are responsible for the entering of patient and clinical data into practice management software. This information is then used to process a bill for insurance claims. Without adequate medical billing facilities, institutions quickly find themselves with a mounting pile of paperwork to complete before payment can be received. A medical billing professional is also responsible for the integrity and quality of the information and the running of management reports. Billing performance is closely monitored to ensure that all money is received in a timely fashion.

What Is Medical Coding?

Medical coding, on the other hand, deals more closely with patient medical records. Alphanumeric codes have been assigned to all illnesses, injuries and treatments. This practice helps prevent misleading notes or diagnoses because the medical codes in use are considered accurate. Initially, this form of medical coding was used to record reasons for death but the usefulness of the system meant that it was soon adapted to general care.

The Differences between Billing and Coding

Medical coders require a vast knowledge of every medical code as well as anatomy and general disease treatment. This makes the medical coder’s job one that is highly specific to this area of work. In some cases, nurses choose to expand their knowledge of the medical profession by taking a coding course and changing career track. Similarly, qualified or experienced coders may gain an education in medical terminology and knowledge in order to progress into the promising medical coding career.

Similarities of the Two Roles

Both positions are in high demand. Medical billing in particular has become a vital role in many practices, both large and small. This means that because physicians, hospitals, care centers and rest homes are all on the lookout for qualified professionals it is easy to pursue a career in medical billing. Medical coding, because of its specialized skill set, attracts fewer employees than are generally required. Again, this means that the potential employee is in the driver’s seat.

Advancing a Career into Health Information Management

In general, Health Information Management (HIM) roles offer a way to advance beyond the billing role. HIM managerial roles, or practice manager roles, are becoming more abundant and with a larger network of employees in most establishments, a hierarchy or network of professionals is also being established.

Starting your Career

The best way to start a career in medical billing or medical coding is to study the appropriate course. >California medical billing and coding schools have many different courses to offer regardless of the route you want to take. While some of these courses offer a good all-around knowledge for HIM employees, there are specific certificates geared towards billing or coding as well as an accredited two-year degree specifically designed for medical coders.

View a list of schools in California offering medical billing and coding programs.