Medical coding is one of the fastest growing career options for graduates whose strength lies in skills and training.
This growth has opened up a variety of career opportunities for students, one of which is medical coding. Medical coding is one of the fastest growing career options for fresh graduates whose strength lies in skills and training. In tier II and tier III cities where the professionals would want to have a white collar jobs without having to migrate to metro cities, coding is helping shape their future.
What is medical coding? It is the process of converting healthcare diagnosis, procedures, medical services, and equipment into the universally accepted, industry standard codes. Medical transcriptions from hospitals and clinics are converted to universally accepted codes in diagnosis, procedure and drugs. The codes are then referred to medical billing and insurance purposes. The codes also help countries in maintaining health records and statistics to study the disease burden and thus give a path for authorities to draft health policies.
It is easy to start a career in medical coding since this field doesn't compulsorily require a clinical or healthcare degree. However, a basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology will help one get a better understanding.
Medical coding is done based on codes set by International Classification of Diseases (ICD), Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and The Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) which help coders document medical procedures for the patient. There are many medical coding courses available at affordable costs. Some of the skills required to enter the field are:
Analytical ability: A coder should be capable to read and analyse medical records and patient details, use the right codes for the billing procedure and forward the claims to insurance companies.
Coding software: A coder needs to have a basic knowledge of the coding software, in addition to database management and Microsoft Office.
Accuracy: This is an important aspect in medical coding. The coder has to understand every detail of the patient's medical history. Even if there's an error, he or she should have an eye for detail to fix it.
The healthcare services outsourcing industry is evergreen. There is an increasing demand for medical professionals across the globe which means there is good job stability and security. India is emerging as the hub for healthcare outsourcing where coding is the most preferred option by professionals. In fact, 80% of US companies outsource to India. With exposure to both IT and healthcare, the coders find a new avenue to polish their careers. Professionals are able to work in a secured environment with plenty of growth opportunities.
The industry has created abundant job opportunities, particularly for Life Science students. It will continue to see positive growth in terms of job opportunities. The industry is growing at over 18% year-on-year and it is currently the fastest in the IT or ITeS space. The demand and supply gap of certified medical coders is approximately 40% and has been increasing over the last two years. This will mean faster career growth for people who have the right skills.
Basic communication skills backed by a certification in coding will help students be part of one the leading industries. With a growing influence of Information Technology in the field of healthcare and with a need to have alternate career options, in next five years, India would perhaps see a growth of about 30-35% in number of professionals who would want to explore their career in medical coding.
(The author is with Omega Healthcare Management Services, Bengaluru)