Essentially the job description is relatively constant between inpatient medical coding and outpatient coding. Although, it is generally thought that outpatient medical coding is less challenging than inpatient coding. But that’s not why there is an influx of outpatient medical coding. There are over 7,000 codes, soon to be many more with ICD-10, both coders must know. Outpatient medical coding, much like inpatient, assigns standard codes, set forth by the AMA, which represent procedures performed, and the diagnosis to medical records for outpatient providers, like the ER, health care clinic or doctors’ offices. By sheer volume, most coding is done by outpatient medical coding technicians. So one would think either medical coder has their work set before them.
Outpatient medical coders have a broad knowledge of the health care structure and organization. Because of the sensitive nature of the information that outpatient medical coders are viewing, they also are very well versed in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. They have a mastery of CPT and the HCPCS level II code book. Each year there are changes and clarifications made to these medical codes. As an outpatient medical coder, it’s important to be aware of the current changes. Not only do outpatient medical coders require an understanding of anatomy, it is becoming increasingly important to have a working knowledge of the science of pharmacology and a mastery of medical terminology. With outpatient procedures on the rise, the medications and terminology outpatient medical coders need to be familiar with is increasing as well. Most outpatient facilities and third-party vendors require medical coding certification for their coders, be they, inpatient or outpatient medical coders.
With the growing trend of physicians moving more and more procedures to outpatient facilities, there is an increased need for outpatient coding. We are also seeing evidence that there is an increase in out sourcing outpatient medical coding. If your patient has any procedure on a same day basis, then an outpatient medical coding is what you need, be it in-house or outsourced. Ambulatory Surgical Centers are showing up everywhere, to perform surgeries, that in the past, required admission to the hospital. Insurance companies, patients and doctors, alike, prefer this for many procedures and you must have a quality outpatient medical coder to insure the codes are without errors, promptly submitted and corrected when needed, so that you can obtain the correct reimbursements.