Medical assistants play a vital role in healthcare environments, providing doctors and nurses with the clinical and clerical support they need to offer excellent patient care. They work in all kinds of medical settings, such as clinics, hospitals, family practices, laboratory testing centers, and urgent care facilities. Some medical assistants choose to focus on the administrative specialty of medical coding and billing. Prism Career Institute trains medical assistants at its campuses in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Here, we provide more information about this area of healthcare.
What Is Medical Coding?
Medical coding might seem complicated, but it’s intended to simplify the delivery of healthcare services. Whenever a patient sees their doctor, whether it’s for a simple checkup or a complicated surgery, their medical procedure is assigned an alphanumeric code. Medical codes offer a standardized system for managing patient records and billing insurance companies. There are three main types of medical codes:
- Current Procedural Terminology (CPT): Developed by the American Medical Association (AMA), this set of codes is used to report procedures and services provided by medical professionals. These codes must be included in electronic medical records (EMR) and reported to insurance providers and accrediting bodies.
- Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS): Based on the CPT coding classifications, HCPCS is administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
- International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM): This coding system is used throughout hospitals in the United States, especially for Medicare and Medicaid claims.
Rather than working directly with patients, billing and coding specialists work behind the scenes to ensure that healthcare services are delivered efficiently and effectively. Medical assistants who focus on billing and coding may:
- Review patient documentation for accuracy
- Transcribe notes from a doctor or nurse
- Maintain and update EMR databases
- Assign clinical codes to patient records
- Process patient co-pays
- File insurance claims electronically
Medical billing and coding is a growing field in the healthcare industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are expected to be more than 34,000 job openings for medical records and health information specialists each year through 2030.
Certification Programs for Medical Coders and Billers
Because they have such a broad range of clinical and administrative skills, there are many potential career paths for medical assistants. Most medical assistants complete a training program to find work in their field, and some of these programs include medical billing and coding classes. At Prism Career Institute, our program includes up-to-date training in electronic medical records. However, a medical assistant may choose to pursue additional certifications to grow their skills and boost their marketability. Several established health industry organizations offer certificate programs in medical coding and billing. These include:
- American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
- American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC)
- National Healthcareer Association (NHA)
There is typically a fee to earn these certifications, and many programs require you to complete continuing education (CE) credits to maintain your credentials.
Note: Prism Career Institute does not offer a standalone medical coding and billing program. Our medical assistant program does provide some training on this topic, focused on how to properly maintain electronic health records.
Pursue a Healthcare Career with Prism Career Institute
At Prism Career Institute, you can receive the hands-on training you need to begin a career as a medical assistant. You will benefit from courses taught by dedicated, experienced instructors, covering topics such as:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Clinical procedures
- Medical law and ethics
- Records management
Students build on this in-class instruction by completing a medical assistant externship, allowing them to gain direct experience in a healthcare setting. Externships include 160 hours of training under the guidance of an experienced medical professional. Successful completion of the externship is a requirement for graduation.
Most students can complete the medical assistant program in as little as six months, and Prism Career Institute offers both daytime and evening classes to better accommodate working students. Financial aid is available to those who qualify, and students can take advantage of free career services.
The medical assistant diploma program is available at Prism Career Institute’s campuses in Cherry Hill and Egg Harbor, NJ, and in Philadelphia, PA. To learn more about medical assistant programs and get in touch with a member of our admissions team, contact us today.