Along with the increasing need for medical billers is the increased number of medical billing programs available. Many of these programs are available online, offering flexible, self-paced learning. And while some online medical billing courses are legitimate, many exist simply to provide you with a piece of paper and little else. How do you know if learning medical billing from home isn’t a good idea? Below are some clues to guide you:
- The sooner the better?: No one wants to prolong their education, as it takes away precious time and finances. To address this issue, some online medical billing schools claim that, with their online courses, you can complete your education in merely a few weeks’ time. However, traditional medical billing and coding programs have a set curriculum, and all are relatively the same length of time to complete. If a school advertises a strangely quick completion time, then how much are you really learning?
- Less is not more: Learning medical billing from home may mean a minimal amount of homework and studying, the so-called benefit being that the less time for studying means a quicker debut into the medical billing world. But homework helps you to reinforce the concepts and details in each lesson, and gives you a chance to practice what you have studied. Homework is a necessary part of any program, so make sure yours doesn’t claim otherwise.
- Have any questions?: When learning a new topic or concept, it’s likely that you may not understand every single aspect. What do you do? You ask questions when in class for clarification, and can discuss topical issues not only with your instructor, but with others in the classroom. You cannot do that when learning medical billing from home. You might be able to email questions to your instructor, but you will miss out on the back-and-forth that group discussions offer, the ability to probe further to understand nuances, and additional verbal examples that can help cement a theme.
- There’s no “i” in teamwork: Learning medical billing from home may be quick, but you miss out on your classmates. Not only will you sacrifice the social aspects that classroom learning can bring, you will also miss out on group work, which will mimic the working world.
- Hands-on learning: One major benefit of some medical billing programs is their internships. You can gain hands-on experience in a real working environment to practice your classroom learning. Traditional schools offer the services and guidance to help you earn a placement. With online medical programs, you may not have the option of an internship, but even if you do, you may need to find that placement without any help.
How do you tell a credible medical billing program from another that is not valid? ones? First, check with American Health Information Management Association for a list of accredited training programs. Next, when investigating each school, ask how long the school has been in existence, how accessible your instructors are outside of class, what the student-to-teacher ratio is, and what their graduation rate is.
Your education is up to you. Before enrolling in any medical billing program – online or otherwise – perform your due diligence. Make sure you are satisfied about the quality of your education to ensure that your foray into medical milling is the best it can be.