What Skills Do You Need to Work in Medical Billing and Coding?
Medical billing and coding is a vital component of the healthcare delivery system. The specialty ensures that patient diagnosis and treatment information is accurately and securely recorded and translated into codes that can be used to create and file insurance claims. If you have an interest in healthcare, billing and coding can be a rewarding career path to follow. But do you have the skills you’ll need to succeed? You need to be tech savvy with fine attention to detail and the ability to follow strict healthcare regulations and guidelines. You also need to communicate well and solve problems. Find out what skills you need to succeed in a billing and coding career:
Attention to Detail
Accuracy is critical to patient care and also important in billing and coding. Mistakes can cost patients money and stress and can waste your valuable time. Your attention to detail ensures that when you update patient medical records, they include the correct information and the appropriate codes so coverage and billing information aligns, and claims are paid on time. You should also be able to catch errors in insurance claims and paperwork so that there are no discrepancies between the records and amount billed. You’re looking for your mistakes—and those that others might make.
Communication is an important skill for any healthcare professional. In medical billing and coding, you communicate with many people throughout the day including doctors, nurses, specialists, patients, administrators, and insurance providers. Your clear and attentive ability to communicate with them ensures that patient records are coded accurately and that the billing process flows smoothly and efficiently. For example, you may need to speak with doctors and nurses about a patient’s scheduled procedure so you can code their medical record correctly. Or you may need to listen to an insurance agent explain why a claim was denied so you can communicate the reasoning back to the patient.
The International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, better known as the ICD-10, is the standard industry manual for coding. It could be considered the most important tool of your trade as it’s something you will refer to throughout your career. The ICD-10 includes 68,000 codes for symptoms, diagnoses, and procedures. But don’t worry. You don’t have to memorize them all! You should have some of the more common codes memorized, though. For example, Z34.90 is the code for pregnancy while Z48.0 is the code for surgical dressings and sutures. For less common codes, you just need to know how to use the ICD-10 to look them up.
When an insurance claim is denied or when a payment from a patient is late, it’s time to use your problem-solving skills. You may need to research the claim and reach out to the insurance company if the claim was wrongly denied. Or you may need to contact a patient and help them figure out a payment plan to get their bills paid on time. The goal is to find a solution that will work for the parties involved.
Billing and Coding Software
Technology has streamlined many processes in healthcare, including medical billing and coding. Today, healthcare organizations use computer software that allows you to perform a variety of tasks through one platform. Using software, you can file insurance claims, generate invoices, and collect and process payments. The software may also check your insurance claims for errors, provide data and analytics reporting, and offer a digital version of the ICD-10. Different organizations may use different software, but if you understand the basics, you should be able to transfer that knowledge to a new program.
In medical billing and coding, you mostly work independently. It’s up to you to manage your time—which can be empowering—but also challenging when there’s a large influx of work. Time management helps you assess your tasks against the time you have to complete them. Take some time each morning to create a to-do list and estimate how much time each item will take to complete. That can help you prioritize throughout the day.
Writing a list of tasks can also help you stay organized. Organization is a key skill in billing and coding. Every day, you have phone calls to make, paperwork to process, and medical records to update. To stay on top of your work, use a planner or calendar, or computer applications that can help you keep track of the assignments on your plate. You should also be able to multitask and manage interruptions in workflow. For example, you may receive a call from an insurance company while trying to code a patient file. You should be able to take the call, answer questions, and then pick up coding where you left off.
If you’re ready to build these medical billing and coding skills and more, contact National American University today. We offer a Medical Billing and Coding Online Diploma program that can prepare you for entry-level jobs in the field. Our programs can be completed entirely online to accommodate your busy schedule. Call 800-209-0182 to speak to an advisor or click learn more now.