We all have to see a doctor at one point or another. A few things you’re sure to be asked up front after signing in are “Who is your insurance provider and what is your method of payment today?” Medical offices must verify your benefits. After your doctor’s visit, the biller files claims to receive payment for whatever services were provided by the healthcare facility you visited. In order to do this, many different codes (each specific code represents a symptom or diagnosis) must be learned to process the information correctly. Success in the medical coding and billing industry requires precise, detail-oriented professional focus to ensure mistakes are minimized.
Medical Coders vs. Medical Billers
- Medical billers: These professionals are responsible for making sure everyone is billed correctly. To accomplish that, they have to communicate with patients and their health insurance companies with regularity to keep all invoices organized and paid in a timely manner. Medical billers have to be well versed in coding language and they have to be familiar with deciphering an assortment of medical invoices.
- Medical coders: These professionals don’t work with insurance companies and their patients directly. Coders spend their time capturing, recording and coding data. Coders are vital because nearly every action taken in a medical office has a corresponding code. In order to make sure the billing process is seamless and efficient, coders must be familiar with them all and partner with billers to get the job done with as few errors as possible.
Health Informatics as an Alternate Route
Generally, medical insurance billers and coders work in office cubicles. Usually, they work with computers, printers and phones located within a health care facility. There isn’t much variation with the work schedule of coders and billers. Usually, it’s a 40-hour work week with opportunities to make overtime periodically arising.
Often, billing and coding responsibilities are lumped in with helping patients around the office. It all depends on the size of the organization you work for and its staffing needs; that will determine whether your role is a hybrid. Customer service and working with patients isn’t easy, especially when you consider they might be sick, irritated or both!
When it comes to health informatics, there are some benefits professionals encounter that you won’t find as a medical biller or coder. Some of those advantages include:
- Better pay: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the demand for skilled health information specialists is increasing. Some of the most popular health informatics positions are health informatics consultant, health informatics director, nursing informatics specialist and health IT project manager. Salaries for those positions can range from $80,000 to more than $200,000 annually, depending on education and experience.
- Varied work: Healthcare issues are expansive and varied. Professionals who improve patient care utilizing health informatics technologies constantly grow and evolve as the issues they grapple with change.
- More upward mobility: With healthcare informatics, you can advance and branch off as your skill set expands, rather than remaining in the same role at a senior level. Professionals in the health informatics field usually have a background in health practices and are familiar with IT techniques. It’s not at all uncommon for health informaticists to transition to roles such as nurse or pharmacist after starting out as billers or coders.
HI Standing Apart from the Rest
There are many different career opportunities in the Health Informatics world, but competition is fierce for top level positions. A master’s degree can help level the playing field for professionals looking to enter the field or make that jump to the upper echelon. HICareers.com found that as many as one out of three healthcare employers considers an advanced degree in health informatics vital for them to consider their candidates.
The USF Health Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida offers a Master of Science in Health informatics, in addition to a Graduate Certificate in Health Informatics. Both programs are 100% online, allowing students to work at their own pace.
The programs focus on integrating health IT with current healthcare practices. Students enrolled will learn directly from clinicians with experience in a wide array of medical settings. For more information, visit: http://www.usfhealthonline.com/programs/.