7 Ways to Learn Medical Coder Skills
Online for Beginners
Medical coding is a career with great long-term prospects, a lot of options for working across the country, solid pay, and ample variety.
If you’re interested in becoming a professional medical coder, there are a few skills you will need to focus on developing. Here is a look at just seven ways you can learn essential abilities that will further your career in this area.
A quick intro to medical coding
Before we get started, it’s worth examining what your job will involve after becoming a medical coder. The basic idea is that you’ll need to keep medical records up to date by adding standard codes for different conditions and treatment plans, essentially translating the diagnoses and prescriptions of physicians into universally interpretable codes.
This helps with billing and payment as insurers use these codes to ensure that healthcare facilities are paid properly for their work and that patients get the care they need as a result.
1. Embracing IT skills
Much of a medical coder’s day will be spent using a computer to search for medical terms and ensure the correct code is added to a patient’s records.
While there is specialty software designed to assist with this, your general computer literacy needs to be up to scratch if you want to succeed.
Being familiar with using a PC is a must, and appreciating the ins and outs of how the internet works, especially with regards to search engines, is also helpful. Brushing up on search tips is advisable, as it will save you a lot of time and effort as a medical coder and in your everyday life.
2. Nurturing communication capabilities
While medical coding may involve a lot of independent work with nothing but a workstation for company, it is also a profession that requires employees to communicate with others.
As such, you need to develop your communication skills to get ahead in this sphere. There are ample online resources to assist you with this, and everything from adhering to good email etiquette to learning the ropes of virtual meetings will make a big difference.
Within this, you must also get comfortable with the idea of traditional telephone-based communication, as this is still a big part of the medical coding world. Acting as the intermediary between healthcare organizations and insurers is part and parcel of the job, so don’t let your phone skills stagnate.
3. Refreshing accounting knowledge
As discussed earlier, medical coding is closely associated with medical billing, and professionals in this role often double up by handling duties of the latter as well as the former.
If you are not up to speed with how modern accounting and bookkeeping software works, then now is the time to change that. This applies whether you want to work as a medical coder or in any other administrative role.
The simple act of tinkering with free online spreadsheet software like Google Sheets, for example, could prevent you from being baffled by the figures-focused aspects of working in medical coding.
4. Improving your problem solving
It is normal for medical coders to come across conundrums that need to be dealt with in their line of work. This might be an imperfectly recorded or difficult to interpret diagnosis. It could come down to the billing side of the job.
Whatever the case, you have to be armed with excellent problem-solving skills, as you would in lots of other jobs.
Following the principles of your training should stand you in good stead when it comes to tackling the task-specific complexities you might encounter. You can also benefit from working alongside more experienced colleagues and absorbing the knowledge and wisdom they have to offer.
More generally speaking, you need to take care of your own body and mind to make sure both are operating at peak capacity when working as a medical coder. That means getting a good night’s sleep, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Having your full faculties at your disposal throughout the working day is as much about maintaining a positive routine as anything else.
5. Enhancing your concentration
As an extension of the idea of your lifestyle impacting your effectiveness when faced with problems as a medical coding professional, it’s worth thinking about how your concentration influences your performance.
If you can’t focus on your duties, then your productivity will suffer, and this could become a bone of contention with your bosses.
The good news is that you can actually improve your concentration with the help of short sessions of online gaming. If you already do this in your free time, then you are on the right track.
It also helps to keep your phone out of reach and out of sight, so that you won’t be tempted to check your social networks of choice every few minutes while at work.
6. Coping with change
While medical coding is not a very volatile career path, there can still be significant shifts in your role and responsibilities as a result of outside forces that you cannot directly control.
If this is something that concerns you, then it may be worth having a backup plan in place if things go wrong. Keep your resume prepped and up to date and use sites like LinkedIn to maintain a public profile for your professional endeavors.
7. Getting to grips with customer service
Customer service skills are a surprisingly important part of what makes a great medical coder since you will straddle the line between several parties at any one time. So, you need to know how to act appropriately to keep everyone happy and satisfied.
This is a broad and all-encompassing area of your professional development to consider, and one which you can cater to with online courses and certifications from all sorts of providers, including the COPC and the CCPC.
In short, skills for medical coders that you learn online are worth acquiring not just because of how they apply to this job but also how they can give you a head start in many other fields.
About the Author
Cristina Par is a content specialist with a passion for writing articles that bridge the gap between brands and their audiences. She believes that high-quality content plus the right link building strategies can turn the tables for businesses small and large.