Medical Coding Specialist

At a Glance

Years in School (after high school graduation):

2 years or less

Hourly Wage:

$15.70-$29.92 (Mean $25.02)
*based on Alaska DOL data for Medical Records & Health Information Technicians

One-page Description (PDF):

Medical Coding Specialist

Professional Activities

Medical Coding Specialists are professionals skilled in classifying medical data from patient records in various health care settings such as physician offices, clinics, long term care and behavioral health facilities, and hospitals. These coding practitioners review patients’ records and assign numeric codes for each diagnosis and procedure. To perform this task, Medical Coding Specialists must possess expertise in the ICD-9 and CPT coding systems. In addition, Medical Coding Specialists have a medical science background (medical terminology, disease processes, pharmacology, and anatomy and physiology). Computer and communication skills are extremely important.

Health care facilities or medical providers report coded data to third party payors such as insurance companies or the government (in the case of Medicare and Medicaid recipients) for reimbursement of their expenses. Researchers and public health officials also use coded medical data to monitor patterns and explore new interventions. Coding accuracy is thus highly important to health care organizations because of its impact on revenues and for predicting health outcomes or the results of new therapies/drug interventions.

Medical coding specialists can be found in hospitals, medical clinics, veterinary hospitals, long term care facilities, and behavioral health facilities. Native health corporations also provide job opportunities.

Educational Requirements

  • High school diploma or GED is required.
  • Medical coding certification is often required by employers. At a minimum, employers expect completion of specific college courses.
  • Some employers require national coding certification.

Academic Programs

Certifications:

The American Health Information Management Association now offers three credentials:

Credential Description
Certified Coding Associate (CCA) The CCA is an entry-level certification given upon successful completion of a national exam.
Certified Coding Specialist-Physician-based (CCS-P) The CCS-P is a coding practitioner with expertise in physician-based setting such as physician offices, group practices, multi-specialty clinics, or specialty centers.
Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) The CCS is a professional skilled in classifying medical data from patient records, generally in the hospital setting.

While none of the credentialing exams require academic preparation, it is highly recommended that there be a minimum of one to two years experience prior to taking the AHIMA CCS-P and CCS exams.

The American Academy of Professional Coders offers two credentials:

Credential Description
Certified Professional Coder (CPC) For physician office coding.
Certified Professional Coder-Hospital (CPC-H) For facility or hospital coding.

HIM Coding Specialist Certificate (Board of Regents approved) offered at:

University of Alaska Southeast
1332 Seward Avenue
Sitka, Alaska 99835
Contact: Cheryl B. Stromme, Academic Advisor
Phone: (907) 747-7781
Toll free: (800) 478-6653 ext. 7717
Email: cheryl.stromme@uas.alaska.edu
Website: http://www.uas.alaska.edu/sitka/programs/coding.html

UAS also offers a distance delivered Certificate in Healthcare Privacy which prepares students for employment in data access and disclosure. Courses from either certificate can be transferred to the Health Information Management (HIM) degree.

Healthcare Reimbursement Certificate of Completion offered at:

University of Alaska Fairbanks
Community and Technical College
Healthcare Reimbursement Program
604 Barnette Street
Fairbanks, Alaska 99701
Phone: (907) 455-2800
Email: uaf-ctc@alaska.edu
Website: http://www.ctc.uaf.edu/programs/health/health-reim.html

The CRCD program offers this certificate through a distance delivered program.

Occupational Endorsement Certificate, Medical Office Coding offered at:

University of Alaska Anchorage
Allied Health Programs
Medical Assisting Program
3211 Providence Drive, Room 148
Anchorage, AK 99508
Contact: Roxann Valentine
Phone: (907) 786-6928
Email: rovalentine@uaa.alaska.edu
Website: https://www.uaa.alaska.edu/alliedhealth/academics/medicalofficecoding/

Certificate as a Medical Office Administrative Assistant offered at:

Charter College
2221 East Northern Lights Blvd., Suite 120
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 277-1000
Email: contact@chartercollege.edu
Website: http://www.chartercollege.edu/programs/healthcare/medical-office-administrative-assistant

Medical Coding Specialist Certificate offered at:

Ilisagvik College
100 Stevenson Street
P.O. Box 749
Barrow, Alaska 99723
Phone: (907) 852-3333
Toll free: (800) 478-7337
Email: http://www.ilisagvik.edu/contact-us/
Website: http://www.ilisagvik.edu/academic-degrees-and-certificates/allied-health/

Insurance Coding and Billing offered at:

Alaska Career College
1415 E. Tudor Road
Anchorage, AK 99507-1033
Phone: (907) 563-7575
Tollfree: 800-770-7575
Website: http://www.alaskacareercollege.edu/index.php/programs/insurance-coding-and-billing

Contacts

Inquiries Regarding Careers and Certification:

American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
233 N. Michigan Avenue, 21st Floor
Chicago, IL 60601-5809
Phone: (312) 233-1100
Fax: (312) 233-1090
Website: http://www.ahima.org

American Academy of Professional Coders
2233 S. Presidents Dr.
Salt Lake City, UT 84120
Toll free: (800) 626-CODE (2633)
Phone: (801) 236-2200
Fax: (801) 236-2258
E-mail: info@aapc.com
Website: http://www.aapc.com/

MedicalBillingAndCoding.org
Phone: (281) 846-3081
Email: contact@medicalbillingandcoding.org
Website: http://www.medicalbillingandcoding.org/

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