By Jamie Johnson, WCI Contributor
As a physician, you may not have given a lot of thought to getting certified in medical billing and coding. After all, CPT® codes aren’t taught during medical school or residency, and since doctors are busy enough providing patient care, investing in additional training isn’t always a top priority. But if you’re looking for ways to earn more money and be more productive on a daily basis, you should consider physician coding training, perhaps with a coach who specializes in that.
Today, we'll look at the benefits of this type of training and how you can find the right course or coach to help you along.
What Is Physician Coding Training?
Medical coding involves transforming healthcare services, diagnoses, procedures, and equipment into simple codes. These codes document medical records and ensure you’re correctly billing insurance.
During physician coding training, you’ll learn the fundamentals of medical coding with training and resources. You can become certified in medical coding, but it’s not a requirement. For many doctors, a basic understanding of medical coding and billing is enough.
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What Are the Benefits of Medical Coding Training for Physicians?
Investing in medical coding as a physician is beneficial for many reasons—it can help your practice earn more money and even lead to better patient outcomes. If you’re on the fence, here are four reasons to consider medical coding training.
Earn More Money
To earn money as a healthcare provider, you need to be able to accurately document any services or procedures provided to patients. But the error rate for outpatient office visits is shockingly high—several Medicare audits have found it to be as much as 91%.
When you understand medical coding, you’ll be able to bill insurance companies at the proper rates. That means you’ll receive the full reimbursement from Medicare and other commercial insurance companies. This can translate to more revenue for your practice.
Become More Efficient
Learning medical coding and billing can make you a more efficient doctor. You’ll spend less time searching for information, and you’ll do a better job of including the level of detail needed to support the CPT codes. You’ll also spend less time fielding questions and resubmitting claims since you did them correctly the first time.
Protect Yourself in Case of an Audit
The possibility of audits always exists, but if you’re trained in medical coding and billing, dealing with an audit won’t be as stressful. That’s because you’ll know that your charts and notes back up any medical codes assigned to that patient.
Improve Patient Outcomes
Finally, doctors who have an understanding of medical coding can actually improve patient outcomes. Better coding can make it easier to identify high-risk patients and help them find the resources they need.
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How Much Is Physician Coding and Billing Training?
There’s no straightforward answer to how much medical coding training will cost—it depends on the school or training program you choose. For instance, if you prefer to receive training from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), you could end up spending thousands of dollars. However, there are online training programs that could cost as little as $749.
The average range seems to be between $749-$1,895. You also may be able to find a coach who is willing to work with you for less money.
And of course, there are free options available. But if you go this route, just make sure it includes all the basic information you need to know. Your best bet is to research several different options and look for the best fit for your situation.
Is Training Worth It for Physicians?
Yes, some level of medical coding training is worth it for physicians. You may pay an out-of-pocket cost, but the skills you learn will benefit you throughout your career. And as we already established, you’ll likely end up earning more money.
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What Physicians Should Look for in a Coach or Course
As you’re considering different coaches or courses, there are a few different things you want to look for. First, you want to consider how comprehensive the program is and whether it will help you gain a detailed understanding of procedural codes and diagnostic codes.
You also want to consider how flexible the program is—self-paced online courses will make it easier for you to complete the training as you also keep up with your patients. You also want to consider whether you want to get certified in medical coding and billing. It’s not a requirement, but some people may be interested in taking this extra step.
If you’re looking for medical billing courses, the AAPC is always a good place to start. You can use its website to search for AAPC-approved training programs in your state. You can also take an online certification course directly through the AAPC.
You can also check with your network of physician colleagues to see what route other doctors have taken and perhaps get a recommendation for a course or coach that meets your needs.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for ways to make more money and get back more time in your day, you need to know the ins and outs of medical coding and billing. Taking a course or working with a coach may feel tedious at first, but the training you receive will pay dividends throughout your career. It can ensure that you’re adequately compensated for the hard work you put into becoming a doctor and can lead you to the road of financial freedom just a little bit more quickly.
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