The healthcare system involves a complex and dynamic set of relationships between patients, medical professionals, clinics and hospitals, and health maintenance organizations (HMOs). Medical coding requires skills and knowledge to translate written descriptions of diseases, injuries, conditions, and medical procedures into alphanumeric classifications, or codes.
These codes are standardized across healthcare services to provide information for the reimbursement of insurance claims, statistics, and research, as well as for tracking patient care. To develop a mastery of coding, medical coding students must learn the following:
Anatomy and physiology (the study of living systems)
Basic pharmacology (the study of the therapeutic use of medicine)
Students in medical coding schools must also prepare for work under medical finance practices. To perform their day-to-day tasks, they use computer software, spreadsheet management applications, and databases under ICD-9 & ICD-10, CPT, and HCPCS guidelines. There’s a high demand for this occupation, which requires a high attention to detail and the discipline to organize and sort vast amounts of information.
Medical Coding is Not the Same as Medical Billing
As you search for certification programs, you’ll need to understand the difference between medical coders and billers. This resource is intended for those who are primarily interested in medical coding courses online.
On the job, these tasks may belong to one individual or may be shared between two people who work closely together to make sure invoices are paid properly. The medical coder is responsible for translating medical, diagnostic, and injury-related information from medical professionals into appropriate codes on claims.
For example, coders take data from sources like doctor’s notes or lab tests and transfer this information to CPT, ICD-9, ICD-10, and HCPCS codes. They write these codes as a kind of shorthand that billers use to claim reimbursement from insurance companies.
Become a CPC by Taking the AAPC Examination
In the healthcare field, these professionals are known as CPCs, or Certified Professional Coders. They must demonstrate professional integrity and pass a coding certification exam sponsored by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). The AAPC offers the following certifications:
Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
Certified Professional Coder – Outpatient Hospital (CPC-H)
Certified Professional Coder – Payer (CPC-P)
Prepare for the certification exams
The examinations consist of questions about the correct application of CPT, HCPCS procedure and supply codes, and ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes used for billing insurance programs for services. If are searching for medical coding classes online, use this online resource, which is organized into five courses, to launch your studies and prepare for your CPC exam. Explore the course descriptions below to see what you can expect from each of these courses, which are designed to help you earn your coding certificate:
This introductory medical billing and coding course offers an overview of how the medical claims system works and introduces you to important ideas in the field like Current Procedural Terminology (CPT), the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS), and common practices of insurance providers.
Known as the International Statistical Classifications of Diseases, ICD codes come in two different systems of coding standardization. This course serves as a guide to ICD-9 and ICD-10 look-up tools that help coders identify the most accurate codes according to their respective class. You will also learn why the ICD system is changing, and what implications it will have for coders, billers, and the industry.
Adding a new degree of complexity, ICD-10 codes will be the new norm in medical coding while ICD-9 codes will become obsolete by October 1, 2014. It’s essential that healthcare organizations and prospective medical coders train for this industry-wide transition to avoid delays and penalties.
CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) codes are numbers medical billers assign to each service a medical practitioner provides to patients (excluding Medicare patients), including medical, surgical, and diagnostic services. This course will give you an understanding of how to convert them to ICD-9 codes in both billing and coding contexts.
Modifiers play a big role in medical reimbursement. Attaching a correct modifier to a CPT code ensures that reimbursement claims sent to insurance providers will go through without being flagged. CPT modifiers give more detail to a code and are used to signify that a medical service has been adjusted due to particular conditions. Explore this course to learn why modifiers are critical, and familiarize yourself with the kinds of CPT modifiers that you’ll use on the job.
This course focuses on describing the medical claims process. It also includes an introduction of Current Procedural Terminology (CPT), the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS), managed care plans, and public insurance.
This course focuses on describing the medical billing process and the duties of a medical insurance specialist. This course also provides an overview of patient management starting with scheduling an appointment to collecting payments for the healthcare services.
This course focuses on an overview of the Healthcare Reform Act of 2010 along with guidelines for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Office of Inspector General (OIG) compliance.
This course focuses on describing all the medical billing errors along with the ways to catch and correct these errors early. This course also highlights the differences between a denied and a rejected claim.
Aims Community College offers the Medical Transcription and Coding Certificate. The comprehensive 32 credit hour program includes courses beyond the basics, offering study in medical law and ethics, office administration, business writing, and financial management. It covers merely three semesters, but for those in a rush, there is the two semester certificate program.
Allan Hancock College
Santa Maria, CAMore Info
Allan Hancock College has an exclusionary policy regarding their Medical Assisting program. Prospective students interested in medical coding should consider the Medical Billing Certification option under the Medical Assisting program. This nights-only program is only available by application, but it covers the details of billing and coding in the medical field. Certification exams are offered through the National Health Career Association, ensuring standards compliance so graduates are prepared for employment anywhere in the country.
Allegany College of Maryland
Cumberland, MDMore Info
Allegany College of Maryland has a certificate program in "Office Technologies - Medical Coding"". Strictly career preparatory
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
Asheville, NCMore Info
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College has an introductory Medical Coding Certificate that can help students with experience and lead to further study; national certification is entirely possible with some additional training. The 18 credit hour curriculum completes in three semesters, including courses on anatomy and physiology, medical terms, and coding for procedures and diagnoses.
St. Clairsville, OHMore Info
Belmont Technical College offers a Medical Coding Certificate that can be completed in less than a year, on-campus or online. The curriculum contains 34 credit hours in total; it covers Health Insurance Privacy and Accountability Act knowledge, coding with the popular standards of ICD-9-CM, CPT-4, and ICD-10. In 2010, 75% of Medical Coding graduates in Saint Clairsville, Ohio were at Belmont Technical College. Of the 2012 year's Medical Coding graduates, 27% gained employment in related fields.
Blackhawk Technical College
Janesville, WIMore Info
Blackhawk Technical College has the Medical Coding Specialist Program at the Monroe Campus for students with current or prior experience in the medical fields. As such, the curriculum skips the introductory computer lessons and fills the two semesters by focusing more on recognizing and processing the medical codes that will be used in this field. At $4700 for tuition and materials, this program is a great deal for those who qualify. Moreover, 40% of the graduates report finding jobs in related fields.
Brenham, TXMore Info
Blinn College has a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Certificate program through the Information Management department. The curriculum is designed for students seeking to enter the workforce immediately. For those interested in further study, however, the coursework may also be eligible for transfer to degree programs.
Blue Ridge Community College
Weyers Cave, VAMore Info
Blue Ridge Community College offers several options relating to medical coding. Mainly, a Career Studies Certificate in Medical Coding for Hospitals introduces both ICD-9 and ICD-10 and requires a coordinated internship; the certificate program prepares students to take the Certified Coding Associate exam or Certified Coding Specialist exam. The Continuing Education department contains online programs for ICD-10 preparation alone, in addition to a completely online Medical Billing and Coding Specialist Certificate program that can be completed in just 14 weeks.
Coahoma Community College
Clarksdale, MSMore Info
Coahoma Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Billing and Coding Technology. The comprehensive degree program takes two years to complete; basic academics and the career technology core round out the 74 credit hours comprising the program. However, quality study options focus on accounting, behavioral sciences, and databases.
Collin County Community College District
McKinney, TXMore Info
Collin County Community College District offers a certificate program online for medical coding. The "Health Information Management / Medical Coding and Billing Program"" is a 40 credit hour concentration based on the American Health Information Management Association's standards. Coursework branches out
Columbus Technical College
Columbus, GAMore Info
Columbus Technical College offers a 24 credit hour Medical Coding program that will result in a certificate. It can be completed in three semesters and is available through the School of Health Sciences.åÊ
Massachusetts Bay Community College
Wellesley Hills, MAMore Info
Massachusetts Bay Community College has a Medical Coding certificate program through the Health Sciences division. The one-year program covers 27 credit hours. The program is especially good because most of the instructors are professionals in the fields of study.
North Central Michigan College
Petoskey, MIMore Info
North Central Michigan College offers a program concentrating in medical billing and coding. The Certificate of Development in Medical Billing and Coding is available through the Department of Nursing and Allied Health.
North Georgia Technical College
Clarkesville, GAMore Info
North Georgia Technical College offers a Technical Certificate in Medical Coding. This non-degree program has a 68% on-time rate of graduation. Like most programs at this college, the medical coding program is eligible for PELL financial assistance.
Northern Maine Community College
Presque Isle, MEMore Info
Northern Maine Community College has a 35 credit hour Medical Coding Certificate program. The program ranks highly, with an 80% rate of on-time completion for full-time students. The certificate can be attained in one year. Graduates are eligible to sit for the Certified Professional Coders certification exam which confers national competence and increases chances for gainful employment.
Nunez Community College
Chalmette, LAMore Info
Nunez Community College offers a program for a Certificate of Applied Science in Medical Coding and Billing. The certificate program is part of the Business and Technology track that awards a degree as Associate of Applied Science. Simply compare the certificate program's 39 credit hours and the degree program's 60 credit hours; students can easily gain certificates that lead to immediate gainful employment and fully apply toward further education.
Odessa, TXMore Info
Odessa College offers a comprehensive certificate program in Medical Office Skills. The curriculum covers medical coding, as well as medical billing, medical terminology, CPR training, and office procedures particular to healthcare. Courses ensure knowledge and compliance with the Health Insurance Privacy and Accountability Act. In total, completion of the program requires 128 hours.
Ouachita Technical College
Malvern, ARMore Info
Ouachita Technical College offers a Technical Certificate in Medical Coding that comprises 31 credit hours. The certificate is part of the Associate of Applied Science in Medical Office Administration program. Both the degree and certificate programs are intended for students seeking immediate gainful employment. The provision of related degree and certificate programs allow students to enter the workforce sooner without compromising their education goals. All of the certificate programs count as full credit towards the Associate degree programs. Certificate program graduates are prepared to take the Certified Coding Associate exam through the American Health Information Management Association.
Owensboro Community and Technical College
Owensboro, KYMore Info
Owensboro Community and Technical College has a Medical Information Technology Associate in Applied Science program with an optional Medical Coding Certificate. As part of a larger degree program, medical coding students can take advantage of this particular placement; credits are easily counted toward medical office administration and management, electronic records-keeping, and medical transcription.
Salem Community College
Carneys Point, NJMore Info
Salem Community College has a certificate program in Medical Coding intended for students seeking immediate employment in the field. The local area offers many opportunities for related work and reports higher mean salaries for health information technicians than in other states. The college has small class sizes of less than 50 participants, and the program can be completed in one year divided into two semesters.
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