What Is a Remote Coder?

A career as a remote coder allows you to work remotely in the healthcare field and use your computer skills to maintain accurate medical records. Read on to find out how to become a remote coder, how to get certified, and how much money you can earn. Schools offering Computer Programming degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Remote Coder?

Medical coders enter into a database the different codes indicating which diagnoses and procedures correspond to a patient. Remote coders perform this job outside of a healthcare facility, potentially from home, though some organizations may require they still perform some work in the hospital. Coders may liaise between the healthcare providers and their employer's billing office, and they also check patient information for preexisting conditions. Successful coders will need to be attentive and pay close attention to details to avoid making mistakes. For those working at home who can set their own hours, they will need to be disciplined and focused to stay on track. The table below provides some details about this field:

Degree RequiredAssociate's degree common
Education Field of StudyHealth Information Technology
Certification Optional certifications available
Key ResponsibilitiesUse codes corresponding to various diagnoses and procedures and enter them into medical software, keep records
Job Growth (2014-2024)*15% (for all medical records and health information technicians)
Median Salary (2015)*$37,110 (for all medical records and health information technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Remote Coder Do?

In the field of healthcare, diagnoses and procedures have corresponding codes. These codes are used to keep track of these diagnoses and procedures and also for billing purposes. Coders are responsible for identifying the correct codes and entering them into medical records with classification systems software. A remote coder is essentially a medical coder who does that same work at a location outside of a hospital or medical facility. Some hospitals or other healthcare organizations do require remote coders to do some work in house.

What Education Do I Need?

While some employers hire remote coders without college degrees, an associate's degree can help advance your career. If you're considering an associate's degree program, you can enroll in an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology (HIT), which can be completed in two years and consists of coursework in medical terminology, healthcare coding, health data, and more. You will learn how to use computer software programs and applications that are commonly used by remote coders. You will also learn about ethical issues in health information management.

If you want a 4-year degree, you can enroll in a Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management (HIM). This program will teach you about information management and medical coding, classification, and reimbursement systems. Both the associate's and bachelor's degree programs culminate in an internship where you could work at a hospital or healthcare organization.

What Certifications Can I Get?

If you want to get certified as a remote coder, which many hospitals and healthcare organizations require, you could get certified by The American Health Information Management Association (www.ahima.org). Options are the Certified Coding Associate (CCA), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and Certified Coding Specialist - Physician Based (CCS-P) designations. If you have an associate's degree you can take the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) exam, and if you have a bachelor's degree you can take the Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) exam. If you obtain any of these certifications you will be required to complete between 20 and 40 continuing education units every two years to recertify.

The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offers four designations for medical coders (www.aapc.com). Options are the Certified Professional Coder (CPC), Certified Professional Coder-Hospital (CPC-H) and Certified Professional Coder-Payer (CPC-P) designations. AAPC also offers specialty certification in areas like radiology, cardiology, dermatology, and more. You could also get certified through the Board of Medical Specialty Coding (www.medicalspecialtycoding.com) or the Professional Association of Health Care Coding Specialists (www.pahcs.org).

How Much Will I Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies medical coders as medical records and health information technicians (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that all types of coders combined in this field earned a median annual salary of $37,110 in 2015. Job openings for medical records and health information technicians in the U.S. are expected to grow by 15% from 2014-2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Cancer registrars review cancer patients' information and reports to ensure their accuracy, following up with them with regards to treatment and recovery and keeping the database organized. These professionals may need an associate's degree or certificate, though some positions require less education. Medical transcriptionists write down spoken words from healthcare professionals, as well as reviewing and editing these kinds of transcriptions for accuracy and completeness. These professionals likely need a bachelor's degree.

Those who enjoy the record-keeping and information management aspects of being a remote coder may wish to consider any number of clerk positions, such as court clerk, interviewer or file clerk. Requirements for these jobs tend to range from a high school diploma to an associate's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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