Is medical coding from home possible? My experience operating a medical billing and coding home business that allows me to perform medical coding at home.
If you are investigating remote medical coding, you probably have questions like:
Is Medical Coding From Home Possible?
Yes it is - but you don’t see many employers advertising for remote medical coding jobs. It’s like a lot of other professions that have a traditional workplace, or with the advantages of technology can be worked from any location. Some larger employers may have formal programs and policies in place to allow medical coding at home.
Medical coding is a task that lends itself well to working remotely. The primary responsibility of the medical coder is to translate the providers diagnostic and procedure dictation into the proper and accepted codes for processing medical claims and statistical purposes. Coders may need to access the patients medical records to obtain information necessary to support coding of the patient encounter and obtain more specific detailed modifiers.
The U. S. Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics anticipates the need for medical records professionals to grow faster than other professions. Due to the increasing need for competent coders, in order to recruit medical coders employers will probably offer flexible working arrangements as an incentive.
The most likely way I know that medical coding jobs at home are possible is to have an employer that allows it, or work for your self as I do. I perform medical coding as part of our medical billing home business which allows me to perform medical coding from home. The nature of the work lends itself well to working remotely as long as good communication with provider and their office is maintained.
If you're knowledgeable on coding, being able to offer billing and coding services is a big plus to a potential client. Most small practices don’t want to just outsource their coding – they want someone to take care of the billing also.
Here’s how medical coding from home works for me:
The provider will send me an audio dictation file sent securely from their office. We also sometimes receive these in writing. This is typically sent or retrieved daily and contains all the details of the procedures performed on each patient. (I and We are used interchangeably because sometimes I perform the coding or one of our employees does.)
We then look up the correct diagnosis code in our ICD-9-CM (soon to be ICD-10) Expert for Physicians and the corresponding CPT treatment codes in the most current edition of the CPC-Current Procedural Coding Expert - along with necessary modifiers. There are also online medical coding services that maintain up-to-date codes and are very helpful for reference.
This information is then entered into the medical billing software – in our case Lytec – to create an electronic claim. This claim is then submitted to the clearinghouse for payment. We typically send a batch of claims daily. Depending on the practice it could be just a few claims or over 40 claims.
Occasionally I may have to access the doctors electronic medical records system to view notes for a particular patient encounter and insure the claim are accurately coded per these notes.
It’s very important that the ICD-9 and CPT codes be correct so it accurately reflects the patient encounter and the claim doesn’t get rejected. Depending on how thorough a doctor is, coding from the providers dictation can be very time consuming. However once you get to know the doctor’s preferences and habits the process goes much more efficiently. We do offer feedback to the provider to make sure the encounter information is communicated accurately.
Start Your Own Business
As mentioned above, one of the other ways to perform medical coding from home is to own your own business. The link above has more information about starting your own medical billing business. This can also apply to medical coding if you have the knowledge and training to offer coding services. The ability to offer both gives you more options to offer a client when operating a medical billing business, as well as the ability to offer consulting services.
More info on starting and operating a medical billing (and coding) home business can be found at the link above including 10 money saving tips for starting a Medical Billing Business.
Medical Coding From Home - Why an Employer May be Reluctant
Employers who may be reluctant to allow remote medical coding may not be preventing it because they are mean or controlling, but due to liability concerns. A health care provider is responsible for the security of the patient data an records - whether it involves the medical claim software or the electronic medical records system.
If a patients medical records or information is compromised, the health care provider can be held responsible. The penalties and legal expenses from such a compromise can be very expensive. This is in addition to the public embarrassment and lose of credibility a provider has - especially large organizations like hospitals who work hard to market and establish the trust of the public.
Every once in a while you read a story about someone finding sensitive information on customers or patients in a dumpster or trash can. Or an employee looses a laptop or USP drive with sensitive information on it. This is why many larger health care employers establish strict policies and guidelines with regard to accessing their systems.
So a large health care employer such as a hospital or clinic may allow medical coding from home, you may have to follow strict practices to access their network and handle patient information. Those procedures are in place to protect the employer, the patient, and also you the employee.
In order for an employer to allow medical coding from home, they would have to have confidence in your ability to be productive working at home. Also they must have processes and systems in place to protect their network/computer systems as discussed in more detail below.
If you operate a small medical billing and coding business, you should have policies and procedures that document how you handle and access patient information and comply with HIPAA privacy and security requirements.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Medical Coding From Home
The benefits of medical coding jobs at home are:
You have to be disciplined not to let working from home interfere with your home life. If you have a healthy business like mine there's a lot of activity - The phone's always ringing, faxes are coming in, emails, etc. - There's always something that needs to be done. If you don't set boundaries, this can really interfere with your home life.
I originally had my office in an upstairs room near the heart of the house. Whenever I walked by the office I felt obligated to work as I remembered something to that needed to be done - or I could hear the phone ring. We finished our basement and I moved my office there for more room and to get “separation” from the rest of the home - both physically and mentally. That helped me to separate my work from home and brought some serenity to our home live.
If you have employees who need access to the home office it can be an disruptive. Depending on how your home is laid out this can be inconvenient. I sometimes employ other mothers on a contract basis to assist in the business.
I just give them an assignment and they can perform it on their own schedule. Depending on the nature of the work this could be in my home office or from their home. Our medical billing software allows access to our server via Remote Desktop from any other PC. However it is very important to have policies in place to insure all patient data is handled in compliance with HIPAA privacy and security requirements.
So medical coding jobs at home are quite possible. The only real prerequisite is having someone willing to pay you for it. Whether it be an employer that allows the flexibility to work from home, or as part of your own medical billing or consulting business, there are ways to perform medical coding from home.
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