Healthcare is one of the largest industries in America, both in terms of revenue generated and the number of people employed. The industry is on pace to be the largest job sector in the country by 2019.
The aging baby boomer population is a major contributor to the increased need for health care services and employees. According to the United States Census Bureau, there are more than 46 million Americans who are 65 years of age or older. The United States Census projects that this total will more than double by 2060.
According to a report from the National Council on Aging, “about 80 percent of older adults have at least one chronic disease, and 68 percent have two.”
Also due in part to the recent epidemics of obesity and diabetes, among other chronic illnesses, the demand for workers in medical offices is at an all-time high.
While many people may want to be doctors or nurses (and there is a definite need for the latter), there are many other jobs and tasks that need to be performed at medical facilities as well.
Patient care is only one facet of the daily goings-on of hospitals, medical offices and other such facilities. Aside from the technical medical services rendered to patients, there is a whole other side that handles duties, clerical and otherwise, that are crucial to the facility’s functioning. This is where medical billers, medical coders and medical office administrators, among others, come into play.
Taking all of these factors into account, the job prospects for those in medical offices will remain highly promising for the foreseeable future.
We will offer a brief rundown of what individuals working as medical billers, medical coders and medical office administrators do and why their jobs are important and what the outlook is like in the coming years.
Medical billing is a function that is crucial to the upkeep of hospitals and other medical offices. As one might be able to guess, a medical biller’s job deals with the billing process of medical services. But what about the billing process and where do medical billers fit in?
In short, medical billers are responsible for preparing billing claims to make sure the medical practice receives the proper reimbursement for services rendered to patients. Medical offices receive reimbursements from private insurances providers and various healthcare programs, such as ones provided by the government.
Without proper reimbursement for services, it is hard for medical offices to function at an optimal level and not hemorrhage money.
Medical billing is a profession that one can get into without spending very much time in school. Most employers simply require an associate’s degree or certificate that can be attained by completing a training program at a community college, trade school or online. Many of these programs can be completed in 18 months or fewer.
In addition to the brief time it takes to complete a training program, the job outlook for medical billers is quite bright. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of medical billers is projected to increase by 21 percent by 2020.
Medical coding is similar to medical billing in that both jobs deal with billing insurance and other healthcare providers for reimbursement. The main difference between a medical biller and medical coder is that a medical coder translates medical diagnoses and procedures into a universal code in order for the health care provider to process the bill correctly.
The most recent catalog of medical codes, the International Classification of Disease, Tenth Edition (ICD-10), is used across the world of healthcare. Designed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the codes are important not only for maintaining records and billing, but also for tracking health trends locally, nationally and even globally.
Each diagnosis has its own code and the benefit of ICD-10 is that it contains more codes and updates than its predecessor, ICD-9.
While entering diseases and other diagnoses into the medical office’s computer system is a large part of a medical coder’s job, they also perform other aggregate tasks as well. For example, they typically serve as an intermediary between the doctors and the billing department of the medical office.
It is also worth noting that some medical offices have a single person who handles both the medical billing and the medical coding. As such, many training programs offered at community colleges and vocational schools teach the two aspects of the medical office together.
Entering the medical coding field usually requires the completion of a training program and passing the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) certification test. The necessary credentials vary by medical office.
Medical coding is a function that is performed at every hospital, immediate care centers and any other medical office. As one can likely infer, the demand for medical coders will continue to rise as long as the need for medical services increases as well.
According to data from the Online Information Network (O*NET), nationwide employment of medical records and health information technicians (which includes coders) is anticipated to rise at a rate of 14 percent or greater through the year 2024.
Medical Office Administration
Whereas the doctors and nurses run the patient care part of a medical office, medical office managers and other medical office administrators are the ones who run the business side of the office.
Some of the primary duties that medical office managers and administrators include:
- Plan budgets
- Authorize expenditures
- Supervise and evaluate the activities of medical office personnel
- Recruit, hire and train office staff
Medical administrators perform tasks that are essential to a medical office running both financially and medically. They typically oversee either an entire medical office or a single department within a medical office.
There is also opportunity for specialization within the field of medical office administration. The job titles and responsibilities also vary by the location in which the medical office administrator is employed.
Though it is not required, many people who work in a medical office as medical office managers or administrators have bachelor’s degrees. According to O*NET, 65 percent of those working in medical office administration hold such degrees.
It is worth noting, however, that nearly 20 percent of the individuals in the same field have associate’s degrees. Again, it is possible, and many do, start working in medical office administration after completing a community college, online or vocational school program.
Similar to the other professions we’ve outlined in this post, the job prospects for medical office administrators are also promising. The number of medical and health services manager positions is also expected to increase by 14 percent or greater by 2024, relative to 2014.
Begin Your Career in the Medical Field with a Stellar Education
Whether you want to become a medical biller, medical coder or medical office administrator, one fact remains constant: a quality education is a crucial first step on one’s journey to a rewarding career in a medical office.
Penn Commercial Business/Technical School is proud to offer a medical billing and coding specialist program, in addition to a medical office administrator program.
The former takes 12 months to complete, while the latter takes 18 months. Both programs are designed to equip students with the skills they need to be successful in the medical industry and are offered at Penn Commercial’s Washington, PA campus.
The extensive curriculum of Penn Commercial’s medical billing and coding specialist and medical office administration programs expose students to a multitude of skills, topics and technologies they need to be successful. Topics covered in both programs include medical terminology, medical documentation and medical computer applications.
Penn Commercial is committed to preparing its students to take advantage of the plentiful openings in the healthcare industry. The programs, especially the medical billing and coding specialist, implement the teaching of the latest, up-to-date codes and software used in billing and coding today.
Students in Penn Commercial’s medical billing and coding specialist and medical office administration programs learn from instructors who have years of significant experience in the medical field. They provide crucial knowledge that students attain in both classroom and laboratory settings.
Medical office administration students are required to complete an externship, which provides them with real-world experience before they finish their degrees and enter the workforce. Medical billing and coding students are not required to complete an externship, though they are available if the student desires.
Penn Commercial offers its students a wealth of resources to help them gain employment at the conclusion of the program. These include services such as career fairs, career counseling, mock interviews and resume help.
Penn Commercial’s extensive alumni network is another excellent resource that can help students find jobs after graduation. Penn Commercial Business/Technical School graduates from both programs can be found across the Western PA area and throughout Pennsylvania.
What are you waiting for? Kick start your new career in medical billing, coding or office administration today. To learn more about Penn Commercial’s medical billing and coding specialist or medical office administration programs or to arrange a campus tour, please visit http://www.penncommercial.edu/contact-us/ or call 724-222-5330.