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Medical Coding and Billing in Tennessee

Medical billing and coding specialists in Tennessee abstract information from medical charts, assign codes and modifiers, and sometimes make judgments about the medical necessity of interventions. For this, they need a sound education that includes core medical courses like medical terminology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology.

Courses of study cater to busy professionals and are often offered online. Still, they can entail an investment of two or more years. How do you know if a career in medical billing and coding may be right for you? You genuinely enjoy acquiring medical knowledge, at least in an academic way. You don't necessarily want to work directly with patients, or at least have their life in your hands, but you are probably quite adept at interacting with people. You have good problem solving skills and can process large amounts of data relatively quickly. You can abstract pertinent information, keep organized records -- and you aren’t afraid of having your skills tested.

A medical billing and coding program or health informatics program can help prepare you with the necessary knowledge to perform in a medical billing and or medical coding job.

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Medical Billing and Coding Training in Tennessee

Tennessee employers often favor job candidates with certification. Many will accept either of several nationally recognized certifications. Occasionally an employer will state a preference for a particular credential, for example, the CPC (Certified Professional Coder) from AHIMA.

Some employers ask for more than one certification. They may, for instance, ask for both coding credentials (CCS or CPC) and health information technology credentials (RHIA or RHIT). One earns an RHIT or RHIA by graduating from an accredited health information program. The CCS and CPC are more specialized coding exams that are easier to pass after a few years experience in the field.

While the CCS (AHIMA) and CPC are not identical, someone who is very knowledgeable about coding can expect to pass either. Experienced medical coders often have several credentials attached to their name. Other competencies that may be valued by employers include customer service skills, communication ability, and fluency with Microsoft Office.

Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job Outlook in Tennessee

There are opportunities to break into the field in Tennessee. In a late 2010 job posting, Parkridge Medical Center in Chattanooga specifically notes that while they prefer some experience they will consider a new graduate. They do ask at least intermediate level certification (RHIT, RHIA, CCS, or CPC). Notably, this is a nationally recognized facility that offers a variety of specialized services including cardiology and orthopedics -- a very desirable employer. Across the nation, hospitals are considered a harder market to crack than doctors offices. In such settings, coding is often more complex.

Other facilities where medical billing and coding specialists find jobs include Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, Jackson-Madison County General Hospital in Jackson and Baptist Hospital in Nashville. These health care facilities are also some of the largest employers in the state of Tennessee.

The AAPC lists an average salary of $42,212 for Tennessee. Medical coders who prove themselves in the field earn good money indeed. A recent position at Vanderbilt University Medical Center was listed as paying in the $48,089 to $87,080 range. The positions asked a bachelors and seven years experience, noting that experience and education may substitute for each other, with one year of experience being worth two of education. This is very much in line with reports published by the AAPC. A 2009 salary survey found that salary increased substantially with years on the job and that workers with bachelors degrees earned well above the mean. How to land that first career-building position? Applicants should be prepared for testing as well as a rigorous interview process. A lower position at VUMC asks 95% coding accuracy. The right candidate can secure a position where hours are negotiable. This is another thing medical coders earn with years on the job: flexibility.

The Tennessee Health Information Management Association (THIMA) can be a good career resource for certified coders. The organization boasts local branches in several cities, including Memphis, Chattanooga, and Knoxville.

You may also be interested in the Medical Assisting programs in Tennessee. Similar job growth projections for medical assistants and billers and coders are projected over the next decade. Earnings are similar as well.

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