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What Is a Medical Information Coder?

Medical information coders use advanced education and knowledge of medical descriptions to ensure proper billing. Read on to find out about the responsibilities, education, and employment of medical information coders.

Career Defined

As a medical information coder, your main responsibilities will revolve around the translation of various medical descriptions into numerical statistics. These statistics can be used for everything from research studies to insurance reimbursement. You are also responsible for collecting and organizing patients' medical records and then checking them for correctness and completeness.

To work in the field, you are required to have a strong understanding of human anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, disease processes, and the integral coding systems used in the medical and health care environments.

Important Facts About Medical Information Coding

Job Outlook (2016-2026) 13% growth (medical records and health information technicians)*
Similar Occupations Medical Transcriptionist, Medical/Health Services Manager
Work Environment Hospitals, physicians' offices, nursing care facilities, government
Key Skills Integrity; detail oriented; interpersonal and technical skills

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Options

A high school diploma is considered the minimum educational requirement to become a medical information coder. However, completing a certificate or associate's degree program in medical coding or health information management will greatly increase your chances of finding employment. You also have the option of earning a medical coding certificate entirely online. These educational programs provide instruction in the main types of medical coding systems, such as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) systems. You will also receive biological and health science training, which is necessary to function effectively in the medical and health care fields.

Certification

Many employers will only hire medical information coders who have received some type of medical coding certification. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) are two of the foremost medical coding certification agencies in the country. The AHIMA offers the Certified Coding Associate and Certified Coding Specialist designations, while the AAPC offers the Certified Professional Coder designation with options for hospital outpatient and payer specializations.

Employment and Salary Info

As of May 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were 208,650 people employed as medical records and health information technicians. This includes medical information coders. The median annual salary for this occupational group was $40,350 at the time, per the BLS. This data also includes other closely related occupations in the field of medical records and health information, such as cancer registrars.