Are you looking to start a medical coding career? Do you have questions about the medical coding industry? Is this medical coding the path right for you?
Medical coding is an allied health profession that can be learned through a trade school training program, which allows for a quick education timeline and the potential for speedy succession to the working world when compared to a four-year degree.
What Is Medical Coding?
Medical coding is a prominent part of any medical exam or visit. Acting as a language for medical notes, medical coding is the process of translating medical reports, doctor’s diagnoses, prescriptions, and other medical details into codes. 
Why Are Medical Coders Necessary?
Medical coders play a huge role in the internal workings of most doctors’ offices and medical facilities. Medical coding helps to streamline illness reporting and is also helpful for tracking disease prevalence and effective treatments.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) regulates medical codes, which are uniform among medical facilities to allow data to be transferred efficiently across the U.S.
Medical coding is also sent to insurance companies for billing and payment purposes.
What Does a Medical Coder Need to Know?
There are several codes that a medical coder will need to know and should learn during their training.
International Classification of Diseases (ICD)  is a code that represents doctors’ diagnoses and patients’ conditions. Created by the World Health Organization (WHO) in the 1940s, the code has been updated several times.
As of 2016, the medical industry is using version ICD-10-CM, which stands for International Classification of Diseases Tenth Revision Clinical Modification. The clinical modification (CM) is a batch of revisions implemented by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), which allows coders to have more flexibility and be more specific within their reporting.
ICD-10-CM codes are used to help to determine acceptable treatment based on previous occurrences on other patients and the history of the illness around the U.S.
The Current Procedure Terminology (CPT)  is a procedure code set that represents most of the medical procedures that occur in a physician’s office. Regulated by the American Medical Association (AMA) and updated annually, the CPT includes five-digit numeric codes that fit within three categories, encompassing most facets of medical care, quality control and research.
The Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS)  is developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and maintained by the AMA. The HCPCS identifies services, procedures, and equipment that aren’t represented by CPT codes.
A Day in the Life of a Medical Coder
As a medical coder, most of the day occurs at the computer completing various tasks. These include:
- Reviewing documentation to understand patient diagnoses, procedures, abstract physician names, and dates
- Translating doctors’ notes and records into code
- Reading, note taking, assigning codes, and computer entry
Medical coders are kept to tight deadlines so medical records won’t lag significantly. Medical coders may work independently or with a team of coders. If there is a team of coders, some may hand shifts off to the next coder who comes in. A coder will often conclude their day by returning unprocessed documents.
Larger facilities may have coders who focus on medical specialties while coders who work in smaller offices may have a broad range of patients and medical conditions to translate.
Is Medical Coding for You?
The steps to becoming a medical coder include enrolling in a Medical Coding Specialist Program, like the one offered at MTI, learning the complex sets of codes and other aspects of medical coding, and passing the Certified Professional Coder exam. Once you are ready to begin working in a doctor’s office, hospital, or at home, you’ll spend your days translating codes for doctors to help maintain accurate medical records that benefit patients and health professionals around the country. If you think medical coding is for you, contact the Admissions Team at Midwest Technical Institute to learn about enrolling in the Medical Coding Specialist Program.