Thanks to the increasing use of technology, healthcare has been through massive changes in the last couple of decades. Doctors, nurses, hospital and clinics have all made use of digital and electronic equipment to diagnose and treat injury and illness. Along with these changes, the industry has used technology to keep accurate and easily accessible records of treatment, supplies and healthcare costs.
During this time, the billing and coding process has become more efficient, as care providers and insurance companies have developed systems for tracking the process. Billing is more detailed and accurate because of codes used to identify various procedures and supplies used.
Medical coding is an essential part of the process, requiring focused individuals with experience and training in the use of diagnosis codes and supply codes.
As these changes have taken place over the last few decades, the process has opened up a large number of employment opportunities, with half a million positions opening for coders and billing professionals. Much of the change has been within the insurance industry, as more people have healthcare coverage.
As this number grows, it’s necessary to have additional trained employees in the coding and billing sectors. Individuals working in this specific area of the healthcare industry are specialists in health-care information. They use computer software and related processes to move the diagnosis, treatment and billing process forward efficiently.
Billers and medical coders review patient information, assign diagnosis codes and treatment codes for patient care, for health statistics and for billing. This is an important step in communication between a billing office and a healthcare clinic or hospital, to cite one example.
Billing departments, insurance companies, doctors and others in healthcare depend on members of the billing staff and coding staff to provide accurate information, primarily using codes to identify treatment procedures, equipment and supplies used.
To improve communication between the medical providers and insurance companies, coders and billers help manage financial records and health records used by hospitals, clinics, doctors, nurses, insurance companies, the Medicare administration etc. Find out more at Medical Billing And Medical Coding.
You can get a good start by using a practice exam and study guide offered in the leading programs available online. This will help you prepare for taking the actual exam, so you won’t be surprised by the way questions are presented or the information you’re required to know.
Look for materials that focus on the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) study guide, practice exam, answer key etc. The practice exam is in three sections of 50 questions each, just like the certification exam.
The goal is to simulate the difficulty and content, but you have the answer key with rationale for the answers, which is invaluable when you’re preparing for CPC certification. It’s best to go into the preparation stage with the idea of getting a good overall knowledge of several areas.
With careful preparation you won’t feel overwhelmed when you open the booklet for the exam. As a general idea, you should focus on coding standards and guidelines, not on the minute details. Prepare yourself by getting comfortable with medical terminology, including suffixes and prefixes used in the names of medical procedures, health conditions etc.
One of the most important tips you will see from all the preparation sources is this: Become comfortable and efficient at looking up the codes. This is probably the most important skill you should develop if you expect to succeed as a professional coder. Passing this exam will require the ability to quickly and accurately find correct codes for each diagnosis, procedure, supply.
You shouldn’t feel that you have to hurry, because that leads to mistakes. But you should work at a comfortable pace when you’re finding codes in the resource materials.
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But Details Are Important
There is a happy medium between getting bogged down with minute details and having the ability to find the codes that match details of each patient experience and procedure.
You should be able to put codes in the right order, of course, because sequence is essential for billing accuracy and medical accuracy. It will be important for you to work comfortably with ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM codes (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision and Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification.
These are the codes assigned to doctor and hospital procedures and diagnoses. You should also become familiar and comfortable with Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) codes assigned by the Medicare program to tasks and procedures. You’ll be working with five-digit numbers or with four-digit numbers with one letter. These are the actual codes and there are thousands currently in use.
Most of the practice exam and the actual exam you’ll be working with the CPT manual. This makes using an accurate study guide more than important. This guide essential. Make sure you devote enough time to this manual so you’re comfortable with it, without excessive stress. When you find yourself at the comfort point, you should be on your way to success.
Programs for Preparation
Quality preparation programs include a 150-question CPC practice test, Answer key with rationale for answers, and an exam study guide with common anatomy terminology, common medical terminology prefixes, root words and suffixes. The programs even include official Proctor-to-Examinee instructions.
You’ll not only benefit greatly from using the official study guide, you will have the opportunity to take the practice exam, which is structured like the real exam. When you make efficient use of the study materials, you’ll be prepared and won’t have surprises when the exam day comes around.
Make sure you’re comfortable with numbers if you’re planning to work in this important field. You should also be efficient with computers, and should have analytical skills. Healthcare organizations will expect you to work with sensitive information and keep it confidential.
If you are in high school and know you want to work as a certified coder, you can get a head start by concentrate on math, health, biology and computers. Becoming a medical coder requires you to have a high-school diploma. Find out if your community college has an associate’s program that leads to this position.
You also have the opportunity to become a coder by taking a certification course offered online. You can get your certificate when you take the certified professional coder (CPC) exam science. Find out more at Medical Billing And Medical Coding.
Keep in mind that certification also requires you to have a couple of years of experience in the field, so you’ll need to start looking for work that will give practical experience.
Whatever path you decide to take, your study will include anatomy, physiology, healthcare statistics, and methods of reimbursement used in the medical industry. You should also be comfortable with medical standards and classification, data analysis and, of course, the actual coding systems.
The test most commonly used for certification is the one prepared and administered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). After you are certified and are working as a coder, you will most likely be required to take part in continuing-education programs. Other important elements in the work of a professional coder are data entry, review of patient information and understanding the format of patient records.
As a coder, you’ll be the key connection between insurance companies and healthcare providers. The extensive growth in this industry, along with the massive number of people now being served by hospitals, doctors and nurses, you can expect there to be a need for coders and billers in the future.
It may be impossible to keep up with the demands for information on patients, healthcare procedures, diagnosis etc. without accurate and efficient medical billing and coding. Medical coding involves assigning codes that apply to specific diagnoses, to procedures and to services such as office visit, consultation, major surgery, urine test, or biopsy.
Preparation for the CPC exam and certification can be less stressful if you follow some of the advice from people who have been through the process. This real-world guidance can be one of the very important factors in your success. It’s best not to tackle this challenge alone, though you may have great confidence in your own efforts and your abilities.
You can rely on the experiences of others, because they have been through the same process you’re about to start. The idea is to use a combination of these methods, so you’ll be prepared for the CPC exam.
Using a well-prepared study guide is a great first step, but you should follow that with on-the-job experience. One other major factor is to actually use some of the information provided in “tips” by those who have successful completed the exam.
Perhaps the most important concept for you to understand is that you don’t have to use your memory exclusively. What you’ll need to do is become proficient at looking up codes in the manuals and resource materials. This is probably the key skill you should develop to become a successful coder.
Your studies, your practice exam, and the advice from others will all point you toward learning to find correct codes, accurately and quickly, without hurrying. You should become very efficient at finding codes without hurrying, so medical providers will be able to understand quickly which procedure, supplies or diagnosis you’re referring to.
You should also be able to find codes that match the details of each medical diagnosis, each patient experience etc. These must be presented in the correct order, because sequence is essential for billing accuracy and for medical accuracy. You should be able to work comfortably with ICD-10-CM codes (International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification).
Codes are assigned to hospital procedures and diagnoses. You’ll also be studying HCPCS, which is the Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System. These are codes assigned by the Medicare program to tasks performed by doctors. It may also help to understand ICD-9-CM codes, which you may come into contact with during preparing. This is a slightly earlier version of the coding classification.
Remember, taking the CPC exam is not about getting a perfect score. Prepare yourself to take the test, not to get everything right on the exam. Read the notes and reasoning behind the use of codes, so you’ll understand how codes best match the situation described.
Keep a steady pace and skip some of the long, more-challenging questions if you must. The goal is to get 70 percent or better. As you’re working through the practice exam, practice doing in the same way you’ll be taking the real exam. There are two scheduled breaks during the 5 hour, 40-minute exam session.
Don’t plan on going to the bathroom whenever you want. When you’re taking the practice exam, don’t just stop and take a break, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Two key tips for being prepared have more to do with personal habits and personality than with skill and memory.
You should work through your exam at a steady pace. Leave a complex/difficult question and go on to others. Come back if you have to. It’s also very helpful to bookmark your manuals and coding books so you can find codes more quickly.
Be sure you learn how to use the code books efficiently. You won’t have time to use the index thoroughly during the certification exam. This means you should prepare by developing your habits with the practice exam. Try going straight to codes in the tabular, since you’re working with multiple choice questions.
Use a marker with your ICD-10-CM book. Be sure to make notes on how codes are used in sequence. Online videos can help walk you through the study process and the exam process.
The main idea is to keep from becoming overwhelmed by using the study guide and by going through the practice exam at a steady pace. Focus on the CPT manual, which will be the bulk of what you need to successfully pass the test.
Certification is Not Perfection
You can pass the CPC exam and be a certified coder with 70 percent in each section of the final exam. It’s important to keep in mind that obtaining your certification does not mean you have to know everything there is to know about this work. Don’t hesitate to pursue your dream just because you don’t think you can reach your goal.
Studies show that job openings for certified medical coders will grow in the next five years, improving the opportunities for anyone who is willing to prepare for the exam correctly. This can be a giant step toward a career in healthcare, increasing your chances of having a good-paying job in what is a competitive market.
You’ll need to be very comfortable with Common Procedural Technology (CPT) codes, a key part of the exam. These codes are the numbers assigned to each task and service used by a medical professional, and include diagnostic services, surgical services and medical services.
Codes are used by insurance companies for the amount of reimbursement the medical practitioners receive from the insurer. A uniform system is what makes medical coding and billing so important. Certification is a formal process that may indicate you have specific knowledge and training for a certain type of work.
In most situations, having a certificate means you are verified by an agency or organization as having particular status, according to guidelines established by that group. This certificate means you have qualifications, status or qualities the meet certain standards.
You Can Do This
Don’t be discouraged by the amount of information presented on the actual exam. This is what the study guide, answer key and practice exam are all about – making sure you don’t have unpleasant surprises on exam day. Some people have not passed the exam the first time, even the second time.
But with the right preparation, you can get it done the first time. The key to success is to focus on the right things – learning to find codes in the manuals and understanding the general structure of codes. Does it mean you have complete knowledge of the field in which you work?
No, it doesn’t. When you become a Certified Professional Coder (CPC) you hold the most-recognized certification in medical coding. It’s the gold standard by which coders are measured. Thousands of certified professionals work to keep the diagnosis and billing processes within medical practice guidelines by completing accurate coding and documentation.
You can be one of them. If you’ve tried and didn’t pass, stop doing what doesn’t work. Invest a few dollars in yourself and your future with accurate and well-designed CPC exam-prep materials. Just acquire a good online program that includes the study materials and the practice exam, and follow the instructions to success.
This may be one of the smartest decisions you’ll ever make. Why not start that journey today? For the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam, you have help from a number of sources, including Medical Billing And Medical Coding.
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