Because it is one of the world’s fastest-growing health care professions, many people today are asking the question “What is medical billing and coding?” The easy answer is that billing and coding are processes by which codes are assigned to services and diagnoses given by a physician, and then converted into insurance billing documents. While this broad definition may suffice for some purposes, it fails to accurately reflect the scope of responsibilities held by professionals in this important medical field.
This article will attempt to define both medical billing and medical coding in a manner that provides information that is both relevant and useful to those interested in pursuing a billing and coding certification.
Medical Billing and Coding in a Nutshell
Because the professions are so often referred to in tandem, it comes as a surprise to many to learn that billing and coding actually refers to two entirely different disciplines. In other words, there is no such thing as a medical biller and coder, but rather there are certified coding specialists and billing specialists. Further clouding the question is that, although they hold different titles and distinctly different responsibilities, professionals in these two disciplines work closely together and depend on one another.
What is Medical Coding?
Medical coding is the process of assigning highly-specific alpha numeric codes to the various billable services, and patient diagnoses provided by physicians. Its purpose is to ensure that medical records are accurate and their content universally clear to anyone who uses them. By using codes as descriptions instead of long-hand writing, there is minimal risk of misinterpretation and a reduced likelihood of inaccurate transcription.
What is Medical Billing?
Medical billing refers to the process that a health care provider must follow in order to secure payment from its patients’ insurance companies. It involves the conversion of medical codes into specific terminology and documentation required by the insurance provider, as well as the proper submission of finalized documents.
What is Medical Billing and Coding School Like?
Although not always required, most employers do prefer to hire people who have graduated from a medical billing and coding school and subsequently passed a certification test. This is because anyone who has completed this process has already displayed the math, science and computer aptitudes required to succeed in the workplace – not to mention a rudimentary mastery of the processes that will be involved. This fact begs the question, “what is medical billing and coding school like?”
Traditional programs and medical billing and coding online schools require an average of two years to complete, and feature a curriculum made up of both job-specific materials and basic science and health coursework. Like the jobs themselves, the required studies demand a high level of attention to detail, good organizational skills and an excellent memory. Proficiency with computers and other forms of technology is also a must, and is often reflected in the hands-on training provided.
It takes a certain type of person to succeed in the medical billing and coding professions and the classes provided by accredited schools do an excellent job of determining whether or not their students fit the mold. Of course, one of the most important things needed to succeed is desire. If you’ve already asked the question “what is medical billing and coding” then you’re probably fine in that area.