What Do Medical Coders Do?
Medical coders are health information technicians who assign codes used for the billing and reimbursement of health services. These codes describe both the diagnosis of the patient and the services rendered by the health care provider. Codes may differ depending on whether the medical coder works in a hospital or clinic and the type of services provided.
These coding sets are revised on a regular basis requiring medical coders to stay current on the changes as well as on any new reimbursement procedures. In some instances, medical coders are responsible for keeping medical and administrative staff informed about changes in the coding sets, too. With the move toward electronic medical records, medical coders are expected to be familiar with and use a number of different computer software programs to access clinical records and input codes.
Medical coders may also review patient information for preexisting conditions such as diabetes, retrieve patient records for medical personnel, and work as a liaison between the health clinician and billing offices.
This is one of the few health-related occupations in which there is little or no direct contact with patients. Because accuracy is essential in their jobs, medical coders must pay close attention to detail.
For more information, go to: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-records-and-health-information-technicians.htm.
Where Do Medical Coders Work?
Medical coders primarily work in health care settings, including hospitals, private physician offices, clinics, and nursing homes. They may also work in other settings such as health care consulting firms and insurance companies.
Medical coders usually work a 40-hour week. Some overtime may be required. In hospitals—where health information departments are often open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—some medical coders may work day, evening, and night shifts.
What Do Medical Coders Earn?
Medical coders are part of a larger Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) occupational category, “Medical Records and Health Information Technicians.” In 2015, the median annual income for medical records and health information technicians in New York was $41,600, higher than the national median annual income for health information technicians ($37,110).
Supply and Demand
Between 2014 and 2024, the BLS projects that the total number of medical records and health information technicians jobs in New York will increase by 16.3%, and increase by 15.4% nationwide.
Employment growth for medical coders will result from the increase in the number of medical tests, treatments, and procedures that will be performed as the population ages and is likely to have more health-related problems. In addition, because of state and federal health care reform legislation, more Americans are expected to get health insurance and the use of electronic health records is also expected to grow. Therefore, more medical coders will be needed for patient and electronic data management.
For more information on the projected need for medical records and health information technicians by New York State labor regions, click here.
Educational Program Requirements
Medical coders may obtain an associate degree from a community or junior college. Some schools may link medical coding with medical billing for a combined degree. The education programs in medical coding generally take between two and three semesters and consist of courses in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, computer skills, and coding data sets.
Many employers favor technicians who have become Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT). Advancement opportunities for medical record and health information technicians are typically achieved by specialization or promotion to a management position.
New York Licensure Requirements
While New York does not require medical coders to be licensed or certified, national professional associations such as the American Health Information Management Association, http://www.ahima.org, and the American Academy of Professional Coders, http://www.aapc.com/, may offer medical coders credentials based on passing a qualifying exam and experience and education.
Scholarships, loans, and other financial support may be available at many of the schools, colleges, and various training institutions. Additionally, AHIMA offers scholarships for individuals enrolled in Health Information Technology programs. For more information on AHIMA scholarships, go to: http://ahimafoundation.org/default.aspx?a=1.
Education Programs in New York (subject to change)
This is a sampling of medical coding education programs.
State University of New York College of Technology
10 Upper College Drive
Alfred, NY 14802
|Borough of Manhattan Community College
City University of New York
199 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007
|Branford Hall Career Institute
500 New Karner Road
Albany, NY 12205
565 Johnson Ave.
Bohemia, NY 11716
|Bryant & Stratton College
Medical Coding education program available at
Albany, Amherst, Buffalo, Greece
Henrietta, Southtowns, Syracuse, and Syracuse North campuses.
For contact information for each location, go to: www.bryantstratton.edu/contact_us.aspx
|Mildred Elley Online Division
855 Central Ave.
Albany, NY 12206
Binghamton, NY 13902
|Elmira Business Institute
303 N. Main Street
Elmira, NY 14901
Vestal Executive Park
4100 Vestal Road
Vestal, NY 13850
|Schenectady County Community College
78 Washington Ave.
Schenectady, NY 12305
|Mohawk Valley Community College
1101 Sherman Drive
Payne Hall 348
Utica, NY 13501
|Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences
226 West 26th St.
New York, NY 10001
(212) 924-5900 ext. 199
|Kingsborough Community College
2001 Oriental Boulevard
Brooklyn, NY 11235-2398
|New York Career Institute
11 Park Place 4th Floor
New York, NY
|Hostos Community College
500 Grand Concourse
Bronx, New York 10451
School of Continuing Education
695 Park Avenue
10th Floor East, Rm. E1022
New York, NY 10065
|Westchester Community College
State University of New York
75 Grasslands Road
Valhalla, NY, 10595
City University of New York
94-20 Guy R. Brewer Blvd.
Jamaica, NY 11451
|Access Careers Institute
474 Fulton Ave.
Hempstead, NY 11550
| Ridley-Lowell Business and Technical Institute
26 South Hamilton Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
| Ace Institute of Technology
312 W 36th St. 2nd Fl.
New York, NY 10018
4040 75th St., Ste. 4038
| Lehman College
City University of New York
Dept. of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences
Speech Building, Room 227
250 Bedford Park Blvd.
West Bronx, NY 10468-1589
| Herkimer County Community College
100 Reservoir Road
Herkimer, NY 13350
Additional Web Links
For more information about medical coders, go to:
The American Health Information Management Association: www.ahima.org
The New York Health Information Management Association: http://www.nyhima.org/
The American Academy of Professional Coders: www.aapc.com