Medical coders usually require their own set of training separate from doctors and nurses, most especially involving studying various code books (which list codes, descriptions and other such goodies) as reference for their work. Often, medical coders are also medical billers as well.
Unfortunately, there’s a frequent habit of this important task being left in the hands of secretaries and clerks who aren’t trained for the task, resulting in the risk of errors being made, information not being recorded properly and even charges being incorrectly placed.
If your organization can’t afford dedicated medical coders, a less expensive, more accurate alternative option would be outsourced medical coding for your hospital or clinic.
Outsourced medical coding is exactly what it sounds like- people outside of the healthcare facilities receive the information, perform the proper medical coding from it, and return the results of their work.
This process isn’t nearly as expensive as hiring people on-site, nor as risky as placing the responsibility in the hands of people not trained for it. So if you can’t afford dedicated medical coders, consider outsourcing to save yourself some of the stress and trouble.
When it comes to hiring for outsourced work, however, you must remember that there are two kinds of medical coding- outpatient medical coding and inpatient medical coding.
Outpatient medical coding is done usually by clinics, for temporary, one-day affairs. These people use the CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) for their coding.
Inpatient medical coding is done usually in hospitals, where people will generally be staying for a longer period of time. The coding system they use is slightly different and includes DRG (Diagnoses Related Groups). This work is far more time-consuming and complex and has to be updated frequently, should the patient’s conditions change.
Outsourced medical coding is generally cheaper and easier, but in the case of a clinic it may be wiser in some cases to have it done in-house. For hospitals receiving a lot of patients, however, outsourcing that work may just be the best option.