Medical Administrative Assistant Field In the field of Medical Administrative Assistant, there is a multitude of career choices to branch off into. Of these many fields, the three that I choose to discuss are Medical Billing, Medical Coding and Medical Assistant. All three careers are of high demand in the medical industry and each requires the need of basic classes, with a couple of varied courses, depending on the field. Basic requirements for all include a high school diploma or GED. Most require an Associates degree, consisting of specific major courses and general liberal arts courses.
Additionally, these professions can continue to advance their careers by obtaining a higher degree or attaining alternate types of specific certifications. It can be confusing when talking about medical billing, coding and assisting. People often use these terms interchangeably, when in fact, they contain separate functions. All are within the perimeters of medical assisting job definition with both similar and differentiating roles. All three fields require a background or knowledge of medical practices and procedures, as well as special billing, coding and medical software.
Medical billing and coding are often referred to as a single term; however, in terms of employment and specific roles they are quite different. Both are in high demand because of the ever-changing medical world. Hospitals, clinics and other healthcare organizations are beginning to recognize the significance of technology in the industry. With the increasing amount of patient data being transferred between locations and facilities, efficiency and simplicity is of utmost relevance. Medical Assisting takes on a slightly different role.
It can be administrative, clinical or a combination of the two, depending on the employer’s industry and needs. The following is a breakdown of the specifics of the three above named careers; their similarities, differences, roles, responsibilities, tasks, trends, salaries and lifelong learning opportunities. Medical Billing Medical billing professionals are responsible for entering patient and clinical data into practice management software, compiling amounts owed to medical facilities, reviewing and maintaining orders, invoices and records for accuracy.
This information is then used to process a bill for insurance claims. Billing needs to be closely monitored. Without adequate medical billing, facilities are burdened by extensive paperwork that continuously piles up and needs to be completed before payment can be received. A medical billing professional is also responsible for the integrity and quality of the information and the running of management reports (HealthCareerChoices. com, 2010). Medical billing in particular has become a vital role in many practices, both large and small.
Some employers offer work from home opportunities, which can be beneficial to parents of young children. Because of this growing need, physicians’ offices, hospitals, care centers, rest homes and various other facilities are all in search of qualified professionals. Currently, there is not an official educational standard in medical billing, however, most employers do look for some level of formal training and prefer perspective job seekers to possess an associates degree or certificate of equivalence through an accredited vocational or career training school, along with some actual experience in a medical billing office.
Formal accredited programs may take from as little as nine months to as long as two years or more and may also offer assistance with career placement (HealthCareerChoices. com, 2010). The courses and content knowledge that medical billing requires would be: a strong knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, how to properly complete various forms, industry coding for medical procedures, strong level of computer skills, typing speed of at least 35 words-per-minute, payer methods, claim submission, denial appeals and accounting.
Of course, because of the constant changing and discoveries in the health industry, the continuous need for current, updated knowledge on procedures, practices, technology and programs will forever be a necessity in the medical field. Growth trends in this field are very broad. Billing specialist, patient account representative, claims processor, analyst, auditor, collector and reviewer are only some of the many options available and require additional specific certification and training. The average salary for medical billers ranges mid $30,000 to lower $40,000 (Salary. om, 2011), but depending on certain factors, can excel beyond this. Additionally, medical billers must also have solid personal skills; customer service, patience, compassion and understanding when dealing with patients, physicians, hospital staff and other associated personnel is a must. Medical Coding Medical coding, on the other hand, deals more closely with patient medical records. Medical coders work in the billing office, or “back office” of medical practices or hospitals. Alphanumeric codes are assigned to all illnesses, injuries and treatments.
Medical procedures are coded for the purpose of classifying diseases in numerical sequences for identification and data collection purposes, similar to the Dewey Decimal System in libraries. Coding specialists review medical records and assign numeric codes for the diagnoses identified and procedures performed. Each medical procedure and patient encounter has a number (CPT code) associated with it which corresponds to an ICD code. These codes are known as ICD-9 (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision) codes and CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) codes.
This helps insurance companies account for, and track the money they reimburse to physicians and practices, to help prevent fraudulent medical claims or errors in payment. The coding specialist may need to make a determination as to the primary diagnosis being treated in an episode of illness, and assign codes to other diagnoses in a specific order (MedicalBillingandCoding. com, 2011). Training and courses needed for medical coding are approximately the same as medical billing. A high school diploma or GED is required.
Coding-specialist training is part of the curriculum for a health information technician program. Most coders obtain their Associates degree. Certification is not mandatory, but becoming the standard. Courses include medical terminology, disease processes, and Pharmacology, in addition to learning how to apply codes. Coders require extensive knowledge of medical codes, anatomy and general disease treatment. This job is highly specific to this area of work and attracts fewer employees than are generally required.
Again, this means that the potential employee is in the driver’s seat. As stated above, the growing need for medical coders should also continue to be in high-demand. Although there is software to assist in the process, a qualified person is necessary in order to ensure correct data entry, follow up on discrepancies and assurance of accurate, timely reimbursement. Growth trends, in this field as well, are widely ranged. Opportunities can vary from physician offices, hospitals, nursing homes, insurance companies or even auditing, to name a few.
Salary for medical coding seems to be close in median to that of medical billing, which is approximately in the $30, 000 – $40,000 range, (Salary. com, 2011). This again, is based upon job title and situation. Continuing education and certifications can only increase the possibilities of additional income. Medical Assisting Medical Assisting, on the other hand, takes a bit of a different turn. Their job description has a wider range. Responsibilities are clinical or administrative tasks, or a combination of the two.
Most medical assistants are required to have a high school diploma or equivalent, but are not mandated to have college education or certified training. Some simply receive on-the-job training. Medical assistants are not required to be certified, but certification indicates that one is experienced and has received formal training, which may lead to better employment opportunities and more lucrative pay. Depending on what type of office they work for, an assistant may also become certified in a certain specialty. Medical assistants perform administrative and clinical duties under the direction of physician.
On a typical day a medical assistant’s tasks might include answering phones, scheduling appointments, recording information, such as medical histories, vital signs and lab test results, preparing examination rooms, administering medications under a doctor’s supervision, cleaning and sterilizing instruments, disposing of contaminated supplies or collecting laboratory specimens. Their duties are widely ranged and vary from day to day. Growth trends in this field will continue to be strong, as I stated for the previous two occupations.
As the number of elderly and sick people is elevated, the ongoing necessity for employees in the healthcare profession increases. The median salary for a Medical assistant ranges $27,000 – $32,000, (Salary. com, 2011). However, the further an individual goes with certifications and degrees, the higher up the wage bracket ascends. In summary, these are the three fields in the Medical Administrative Assistant program that I have chosen to discuss for this essay. I have briefly described each field and their responsibilities, tasks, growth trends, salaries and lifelong learning opportunities, as to my knowledge.
As for myself, I have not chosen a direct career field, but at this point, I feel that I would like to pursue Medical Coding, as it seems to be the most interesting of the three. I may, in the future, choose to further my medical education and perhaps branch off to another aspect of the medical field. For now, I am satisfied with the program I am in and will take it one step at a time, until I reach the point I feel fulfilled and am situated in a comfortable, challenging profession in the health care field. References HealthCareerChoices. com. (2010).
Medical Billing and Coding Overview. http://www. healthcareerchoices. com/jobs/medical-billing-coding/. Retrieved June 21, 2011. MedicalCodingandBilling. (2011). Medical Coding and Billing: Success of Hidden Pitfalls Exposed. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from http://www. medicalcodingandbilling. com American Academy of Professional Coders. (2011). Credentialing the Business Side of Medicine. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from http://www. aapc. com What are you Worth?. (2011). In Salary Index. Retrieved June 22, 2011, from http://www. salary. com/mysalary. asp