The rapidly evolving medical profession is witnessing a tremendous need for collaborating and maintaining electronic health records and computerised billing systems. This has led to a surge in demand for qualified medical coding professionals across the globe. In India too, medical coding is a fast emerging career and there is a growing demand for medical coding professionals in the country. Infact, the number of people seeking medical insurance has seen a rise from 216 million in 2014 to 288 million of late, and is expected to only grow every year. The medical coders play a crucial role in ensuring hospitals and healthcare providers get paid seamlessly by insurance companies. They are becoming highly essential to the healthcare industry. So students who are interested in para-medical fields can consider pursuing a career in medical coding.
Though the terminology medical coding sounds very technical, it is very easy to understand. Think for instance you visit your doctor, and then receive a bill containing medical codes, such as ICD-10. Even in an X-ray, those services are represented by medical codes on your bill. There are many medical codes for all kinds of health care services, procedures and medical equipments.
Medical Coding, in technical language is described as the process of translating information from medical records of patients into standardised medical alphanumeric codes. The information could be in the form of doctors’ notes, prescriptions, laboratory tests, procedures, and diagnoses. This information is used to bill patients and third-party players such as insurance companies.
Medical coders ensure that medical information is transmitted accurately and efficiently between healthcare providers and insurance payers. Medical coders spend a lot of time reviewing medical records to assign these codes. Physicians and hospitals depend on accurate coding to receive proper reimbursement, making the role of the coder a valued one. Medical coders work in all types of health care facilities, including doctor’s offices, surgery centres, hospitals and health care systems.
Demand for the profession
There is massive demand for medical coders trained in India in the healthcare BPO industry particularly servicing the US health sector. The number of people covered under medical insurance is growing rapidly in India. There is growing demand from hospitals for coders who can electronically maintain patients’ records and liaise with medical insurance companies for claims processing.
Graduates in science, nursing, biotechnology, microbiology or physiotherapy are eligible to pursue diploma/certificate programmes in medical coding offered by institutions accredited by the US-based American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), Board of Medical Specialty Coding and Compliance (BMSC) and American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). The Academy of Medical Coders India and Institute of Good Manufacturing Practices India — both based in Delhi — offer a six-month postgraduate diploma and three-month executive diploma in medical coding with the option of regular, part-time and interactive course programmes.
A fresher can expect to earn an average salary of Rs.25,000-30,000 per month. After five-six years of experience, a medical coder is promoted to team leader (Rs.45, 000) followed by manager/senior manager (Rs.60, 000).
With the increasing demand for coders, students who cannot take up mainstream courses in medical profession, can try their hands at this. This way, you can still be a part of the medical industry and the monetary benefits are also good.