Medical Coding and Billing in Utah

The AHIMA Convention and Exhibit in Salt Lake City will drew medical coding specialists and other health information professionals from around the nation. Many of Utah’s medical billing and coding specialists were there, attending events, earning CEUs, and finding out about the new ICD-10-CM coding system which is expected to revolutionize the profession.

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Medical billing and coding is an exciting profession and one that is constantly changing. Medical coding specialists must keep on top of coding taxonomies, Medicare and Medicaid policies, and documentation and privacy laws. In many cases, they’re asked to educate the physicians they work with about changes in policy. The best known job function is matching descriptions of medical problems and procedures with alphanumeric codes. Medical coding specialists must also abstract information from patient charts; for this, they need basic (and sometimes specialized) medical knowledge. Medical billing specialists have their own special roles. They may be responsible for following through on denied claims and documenting compliance issues. This data may be used for research as well as reimbursement purposes.

If you are interested in a career in the medical billing and coding professions, a solid education is the starting point.

Medical Billing and Coding Training in Utah

Many Utah employers desire national certification. They may accept certification through either of the two main credentialing agencies, AHIMA or AACP, or they may state a preference. AHIMA offers different levels of credentialing. Employers are more likely to look favorably on AHIMA’s CCS, RHIA, or RHIT certification than on the CCA, which is considered entry level. Some employers prefer candidates with an associate’s or baccalaureate degree.

The CCS certification exam does not include the formal prerequisite of a college degree from an accredited institution; the RHIT and RHIA do. For those who like on campus learning, the state has one accredited HIT program, at Weber State University in Ogden. For those who prefer to learn online, there are many additional options. Those seeking credentialing through AAPC will also find online options.

Longer course may include field-related skills like accounting as well as other health information technology/ management issues. RHIT and RHIA are considered good medical coding credentials, but also qualify a person for other jobs in the industry. Degree programs generally also include some electives. These can be useful for employment as well. Composition skills can be of great concern to future employers. The same holds true of typing proficiency, as some entry level positions combine medical coding with administrative duties.

Medical Billing and Coding Salary and Job Outlook in Utah

Higher education is often looked upon favorably by employers. A coding supervisor at Ogden Medical Center has shared that she only hires medical coding specialists with RHIT or RHIA credentialing.

Prior job experience will also help determine how quickly a new graduate will find employment. Employers will sometimes consider healthcare or other office experience for entry level positions. Medical billing may be a bridge between administrative work and coding. A recent job posting for patient service representative demonstrates this. The hiring team will accept experience in call centers or customer service as work-related experience, though they prefer some knowledge of medical coding. Another posting, for a business office manager in a home health setting, involves directing the billing department and educating others in compliance issues. The hiring team asks for supervisory and office management experience, and prefers, but does not require, that the experience be in a healthcare environment.

Some of the larger employers in Utah’s health care sector are Intermountain Medical Center with various locations including Salt Lake City, Saint Mark’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, University of Utah Health Care in Salt Lake City and Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo (part of Intermountain Healthcare. These facilities either employ in-house medical billers and coders or hire an medical billing and coding agency to do their coding and billing.

Weber State lists $26,000 to $33,000 as the typical salary for entry level positions in Utah. Experienced medical billing and coding specialists do earn very solid incomes in Utah. The AAPC conducted a national survey of more than 10,000 specialists in 2009. Utah was reported as having an average salary of $45,000.

You may also be interested in checking out the Medical Assisting programs in Utah.

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