Thinking like a coding manager can greatly improve your chances of landing that first medical coding job. Most medical coders (especially those on the job for the first time) work closely with a coding manager. This manager is responsible for making the process of coding and billing go as smoothly as possible. By understanding what a coding manager does, what responsibilities they have and most importantly, how you can make their job a lot easier, you’ll have a distinct advantage over other coders vying for the same job.
A coding manager is the link between their coders and the client, be it a physician or physician’s practice, hospital or another healthcare employer. It’s their job to make sure patient encounters are coded quickly and accurately and remain compliant. When things break down or mistakes are made, it’s usually the coding manager that gets the complaint phone call or email. It’s your job to do what you can to keep those calls and emails to a minimum! Here’s how:
Remember that coding is essentially about getting paid. Coding is part of the process that makes sure everyone is compensated for their efforts. Many new coders don’t quite understand this and it shows in their work. Those phone calls and emails the coding manager gets from the client are often about charges being billed to the wrong department or physician, errors in the date of the procedure or service not being coded or coded twice. These types of errors can be considered “clerical” errors rather than coding errors. It’s very important to choose and apply the proper code(s) but don’t focus so much on it that you make such basic errors.
Make sure you have a working understanding of medical claims processing. If you know what a claim form looks like and what path it takes, it will give you a better understanding of what part you play in the process. Make sure you know how to keep things moving and keep claim denials and compliance issues to a minimum. Make this apparent on your resumes, cover letters and during an interview.
Be as self-sufficient as possible. Coding managers are almost always experienced coders and will be able to answer many of your questions but they’re probably too busy to hold your hand. During that job interview, give the impression that you know where to find answers and how to find them quickly. But also let them know that you are not afraid to ask the really important questions – the kind that saves time, money and improves accuracy.
Have some understanding of the industry. Most coding managers have been around a while and have a good idea of how the healthcare system works, even beyond coding. Make sure you know what HIPAA is all about and how it affects your work. Also learn a bit about LCD (Local Coverage Determinations) and CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services). This knowledge will impress the manager interviewing you that you know that coding is about more than just numbers.
Thinking like a medical coding manager may very well be the best way to land that first medical coding job.