If you decided to pursue a career in medical billing and coding, finding an online program that will allow you to gain necessary skills and knowledge is only the first step. Completing the program is your goal. Medical billing and coding online courses are convenient, but somewhat different from an on-campus classroom. Many students discover that pursuing a diploma or degree online calls for different study skills than they used in high school or traditional college programs. In addition to that, medical billing and coding courses, whether taken in a classroom or online, cover subject areas that may be new. Online medical billing and coding courses can cover topics such as:
- The healthcare claims cycle
- Anatomy and medical terminology
- Healthcare payers
- Healthcare settings and claims processing
- Medical practice management systems
- Career management
As the population ages and healthcare providers transition to electronic records and billing systems, opportunities for medical coding and billing professionals increase nationwide. But while the promise of a strong job market might make medical billing and coding an attractive field of study, as you can see from the list above, the courses you take may very well be brand new academic territory for you. Success in your online medical billing and coding courses, including the preparation you’ll need for the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders, requires that you seriously apply yourself to the material and make the most of the online resources provided by your school. Here are a few tips:
1. Learn the terms
The medical billing and coding field is driven by terminology. To properly code medical and surgical procedures, medical coders must understand the terms used to describe them. As you can imagine, given the wide—and growing—range of medical and surgical procedures in use in hospitals, doctor’s offices and clinics, there are many terms you’ll need to remember.
Make it a point to memorize new terms you learn in an online lesson before your next online lesson. This way, you will be less likely to fall behind. Try setting aside some time every day to study flashcards. Some students may prefer to review just before bed, right before they wake up, or during another quiet break during the day.
2. Become a software whiz
Many of the tasks medical billing and coding professionals are called on to do are software-based. Paper medical records are becoming a thing of the past. For you, that means making the most of your online medical billing and coding education is going to mean being familiar with the software applications commonly used for medical billing and coding.
It will be to your advantage to learn each software system inside and out. If you haven’t used computers much in the past, you may find it helpful to get some instruction in basic computer use to get yourself up to speed. You could buy an introduction to computers book or check one out from the library, or ask a friend or relative to help you; you may even know someone who is knowledgeable and comfortable working with computers.
3. Pay attention to details
Medical billing and coding professionals are relied upon for their accuracy. Entering a code incorrectly can cause confusion and delays in a healthcare claim reimbursement process. That’s why medical billing and coding courses stress attention to detail. Even if you feel you’ve completed your assignments correctly, take a few minutes to read them over before submitting them. Your instructors will appreciate this precision, and you will also start to build habits that will serve you well in your medical billing and coding career.