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Medical Coding and Billing in Oklahoma

Medical billers and coders in Oklahoma are vital to health research, as well as to the process of getting claims paid. Medical billing and coding experts attach strings of alphanumeric characters to medical procedures in order to classify them. Their job duties may go far beyond this, however. They may also review, modify and implement new policies or educate others in the physicians’ office about compliance and documentation issues. A medical coding manager who has at least a few years of experience may be involved in analyzing data to determine physician and hospital profiles.

A medical billing and coding specialist in Oklahoma needs to be familiar with coding systems such as ICD-9-CM and CPT and have a working knowledge of SoonerCare, Advantage, and other programs administered by the Oklahoma Department of Health and Human Services.

How does one gain this knowledge? They learn it in a medical billing and coding training program or through a health information technology program, which covers coding as well as other related topics.

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Medical Billing and Coding Training in Oklahoma

Medical billing and coding programs in Oklahoma will generally take two years or less, while classes in health information technology or management (which include medical billing and coding in the curriculum) require the equivalent of two to four years of full time work. Which is better preparation for a medical coder? Surprisingly, the health information track may be. An associate’s level RHIT program will likely include the same basic coding and health core classes that are included in the certificate program. The RHIT may actually go more into depth in some areas that have relevance to a coder -- at least one who wants to advance to the level of manager.

Tulsa Community College, for instance, offers a course in quality utilization and risk assessment at the associates level that is not included in the certificate program. The longer program also includes composition or professional writing, skills that are looked upon very favorably by potential employers. Another trend nationwide is to allot more hours to field experience in the longer degree programs. Even though the additional hours may not pertain directly to medical coding, they are a chance to make connections in the field as well to learn other related skills. In the employment world, job openings may not have a clear cut division of skills or align with one's major.

Most degree programs prepare a student for national board examinations. The two best know certification agencies, on a national level, are AHIMA and AACP. AMBA, which is has its headquarters in Oklahoma, focuses on medical billing. The CMRS credential demonstrates competency in this area.

In order to ensure that those in the program have the foundation level skills, admission may depend on SAT or ACT scores as well as transcripts.

Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job Outlook in Oklahoma

Certified, experienced medical billing and coding specialists make good wages. The AAPC 2010 Salary Survey lists an average salary of $39,485 for Oklahoma.

How quickly a new graduate finds a job depends on a number of factors. Excellence on the job, be it an externship or a paid position, will lead to further opportunities. Even distance learning programs often include internships. A representative of Alexandria Technical Community College has noted that a person can complete an internship at any of a number of medical facilities in their own area. These can include nursing homes, chiropractic offices, or physical therapy offices as well as hospitals. It can be a good idea to think about potential work opportunities before making inquiries or selections. Some people use the forums at AAPC or other professional organizations to network; this can be for the purpose of finding internship leads as well as paid positions.

Graduates will find jobs sooner if they take stock of their unique skills and apply to the right facilities. There are other skills besides coding accuracy that are sought after by Oklahoma’s employers. Oklahoma has the largest population of Native Americans in the country, with 39 different tribes headquartered within state borders. Job postings may ask for competency working with members of diverse groups. Bilingualism is sometimes considered an asset.

Other ideas for where medical billing and coding specialists and students can look for jobs or internships include Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma State University Medical Center in Tulsa, Saint Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City and INTEGRIS Health Centers with various locations throughout the state.

You might want to explore the Medical Assisting programs in Oklahoma as well. They often times offer a shorter training to work period and the career offers similar job growth projections and earnings.

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