How to become a Medical Coder
When you choose to become a medical coder, you maintain the official record of the observations, medical or surgical procedures, and treatments administered by a doctor or healthcare professional. These records include the symptoms, medical history, examination results, x-ray reports, lab tests, diagnoses, and treatment plans for a given patient.
Medical billing and coding specialists organize and evaluate these records for completeness and accuracy and assign each medical procedure its own code to be used for insurance and billing purposes. People who specialize in coding are called health information coders, medical record coders, coder/abstractors, or coding specialists. The primary responsibility of a medical coder is to assign a code to each diagnosis and procedure by consulting a classification manual or through his or her knowledge of disease processes.
When you become a medical coder you must master the use of specialized computer programs to organize, tabulate and analyze the information generated by a healthcare professional. These computer programs are designed organize a patient's health information and to help improve patient care, to control costs, for use in legal actions, in response to surveys, or for use in research studies. Cancer registrars compile, maintain, and review records of cancer patients to provide information to physicians and for use in research studies.
The duties of a medical coder vary with the size of the facility. In large to medium-sized facilities, medical coders may do nothing more than assign codes and tabulate data. Smaller facilities may require the coder to accept more responsibility or supervise health information clerks and medical transcriptionists.