Medical Coding Specialist vs. Medical Office Specialist: What’s the Difference?
Though many feel dismayed by the modern job market, there are plenty of opportunities if you know where to look. Two promising career fields are medical coding and medical office assistance.
Before you pursue either job, however, make sure you have a clear sense of the duties, education requirements and job opportunities.
Medical office specialists are essentially administrative assistants who work in doctor’s offices, hospitals, clinics and other health facilities. Their duties include keeping records, entering information in computer databases, communicating with patients and practitioners, and organizing all important documents. They will schedule appointments, perform basic medical billing and create and maintain Electronic Health Records. Medical Office Specialists will understand basic anatomy and physiology and medical law and ethics. Primarily, medical office specialists will need to have very strong computer skills and excellent customer service
Medical Billers and Coders possess a higher skillset. They make sure all patient records are labeled with the proper codes, make regular updates to accounts for treatments and changes in health status, and consolidate information to be used for research. A medical coding specialist must have deep knowledge of medical laws and healthcare procedures as they must record information in a format that other clinics and insurance companies can read and interpret.
Although those who have been to college are more likely to get jobs as medical office specialists, few clinics require official training for the job. These positions require excellent written and verbal communication, strong computer skills, basic math aptitude and the ability to provide high levels of customer service. How you learned these skills is less important. Clinic-specific knowledge will be covered during on-the-job training, which usually lasts several months. Nonetheless, many medical office assistants choose to attend college or vocational school in order to improve their chances of getting hired. By contrast, formal education is crucial if you plan to work as a medical coding specialist.
Medical coding is a highly technical job, meaning employers will only hire you if you have been through a diploma program that covers medical terminology, human anatomy, medical law, and bodily diseases. Once you receive your diploma, you are eligible to begin working in the field, however, many employers may require a national certification such as Certified Electronic Health Records Specialist or Certified Billing and Coding Specialist to qualify for the position. These certifications, which must be renewed regularly, will prove that you are up to date on all relevant health information.
The job market for medical secretaries is projected to grow 16% over the next decade from 2018-2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth is being driven by increased demand for health services thanks to the Affordable Care Act and the country’s aging population. The medical coding specialist job market is also enjoying strong growth, and is expected to expand by 11% over the same 10 year span. Coding specialists benefit from recent changes in healthcare law and from the need for healthcare facilities to upload their information to computers.
Medical office specialists and medical coding specialists both enjoy promising careers, but that doesn’t mean either job is right for you. Before you decide on a job, make sure to have a strong sense of your skill set and the type of environment you’d like to work in. For more information and help in deciding which career path is right for you, contact Southern Careers Institute today. The admissions representatives can answer questions regarding requirements, certifications and program options.
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