— Written by Purnima.S
An invisible virus has challenged our very existence, impacting not just our health but brutally disrupting the global economy too. It has brought to the forefront the immediate need for better healthcare services and facilities. The global healthcare industry is undergoing a mammoth transformation aided by the requisite regulatory changes across regions. To ensure effective delivery of care while navigating these changes, there is a need for specialised skills. While there are industries that are afflicted with layoffs and furloughs, the healthcare industry is witnessing a boom in career opportunities.
With the rapidly changing dynamics of the US healthcare provider industry, there is a rising demand for back-office services, referred to as revenue cycle management. This is essential for both the healthcare providers and patients to have a seamless experience as well as for efficient management of the monetary aspects too. It all begins with understanding the healthcare documents and converting them to universally accepted codes. Right codes ensure the timely processing of claims and reimbursements. Accurate codes that ultimately generate accurate data can enable predictive care too, which could perhaps be life-saving.
Medical coders have been among the most in-demand healthcare professionals. For the life sciences and other paramedical graduates, this niche work offers a lucrative career that is gaining popularity. Here are a few benefits of taking up medical coding as a career:
A growing discipline
There is a dearth of trained and certified medical coders. The aggressive adoption of digitisation and technology in the healthcare space will boost the demand for trained candidates, essential to bridge the demand-supply gap which currently stands at upwards of 40 per cent. With Covid-19 creating a flux of patients, the demand for skilled medical coders has increased even more. There are academies that train and place at least 100 candidates on a monthly basis. The job of medical coders will remain relevant as they play a vital role in the seamless functioning of the revenue cycle process of the healthcare sector.
A career for the aspirational
A career in medical coding is ideal for people seeking to work in the healthcare sector without spending many years on higher education. Graduates in life sciences or any paramedics/allied healthcare specialists can pursue a career in this field and kick-start their career within a few months of completing a course. The cost of a medical coding programme is significantly lower compared to the education offered by regular medical schools and colleges. This makes the field ideal for people considering a midlife career change too. There are medical coding academies that offer a full-time course training candidates to decipher ICD-10 and HCPCS codes.
Rewarding career that will never go obsolete
Medical coding as a career can be lucrative and is one of the fastest-growing fields in the healthcare sector. Technological advancements and increased use of data calls for more analytical skills, paving the way for higher salary packages. The job role also offers a competitive appraisal compared to other openings in this sector. With the right skills and credentials, a career in medical coding is financially rewarding.
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Perks of the work
The sense of satisfaction one has at the end of the day is one of the greatest benefits of working in the healthcare industry. Medical coding specialists are key members of the healthcare team. Their work is crucial to keep the costs down, reduce medical errors, and ensure that patients’ medical histories are organised and recorded correctly. These will be of immense benefit to the patients facilitating timely and accurate delivery of care. Over and above this, the field of medical coding offers the right mix of work-life balance and flexibility, making it a good career choice.
Getting certified and working as a medical coding expert places you in the midst of the booming world of healthcare, laying the foundation to a niche and well-paying career. This will make growth in their line of work and reach leadership positions easier.
A career in medical coding in the ‘new normal’ will need professionals to focus on both technical and soft skills. Understanding medical codes, payment policies, innovative thinking, analytical skills, and government regulations are an added advantage. In the dynamic ecosystem, learners must practice continuous learning to acquire new skills and stay relevant.
— The author is associate director- Technical Training & Head of OMCA Omega Healthcare Management Services Pvt. Ltd.