Remote Coding/Billing: Is It Right for You?
Know the type of work and requirements, and debunk the myths surrounding coding/billing from home.
By Robin Moore, CPC, CCMA
You see jobs for remote coding and billing advertised everywhere: schools promote it, recruiters tempt you with it, and your coworkers says it’s their dream to work from home. It sounds great, but is working remotely right for you? Before you throw out all those business suits, take a reality check.
What’s Your Type?
There are different three main types of remote work descriptions:
1. You are an employee of a company with all the benefits that every employee of that company has, but you work from home. You accrue time off, are offered insurance, and you’re at the job until you decide to leave or are terminated. As such, you are required to clock in and out and comply with company policy.
2. You work for a staffing company, and projects may be short term or long term, depending on how long the client needs you. Sometimes projects take longer than anticipated or you’re asked to stay on longer. You might accrue time off, be offered health insurance benefits, or have taxes taken out of your check (if you don’t have taxes taken out of your check, you must still report your income to the IRS).
3. You work from home, under contract, for specific projects. You agree on a pay rate and you know the end date. Projects often last less than three months. Usually no taxes are taken out of your pay, and you are paid at the end of the project. If the project spans several months, however, you may be paid monthly. When one contract ends, it’s up to you to find another.
Something to consider: Most companies will supply their remote employees with either a laptop or a desktop computer. Non-employee workers, however, usually must purchase their own computers, software, and office supplies.
If the company does not provide tech support, you may also want to hire a company to help you when you need a computer geek. Just remember to adhere to HIPAA when hiring third parties to do your techy work!
Fact or Fiction?
I can skimp on a babysitter.
Fiction: Watching children is impossible when there are strict production standards you must adhere to. When working at home, you’re watched closely on meeting numbers.
I can work whenever and wherever I want.
Fiction: There are some projects that can be worked on whenever you feel like it, as long as you complete it by a given deadline. Often you can set your work time; once set, though, you need to stick to working those hours.
You must have a designated office space. It’s easier to tune out distractions while you work if you have separate space with a door you can shut.
I can work in my pajamas.
Fact: You can work in your pajamas most of the time (unless you have a Skype meeting that day), but it gets old. You’ll realize you need to at least throw on some jeans and a t-shirt. It’s hard to get in the mood to work if you leave your pajamas on all day. It wears on your constitution and self-image.
Do You Have What It Takes?
Most remote coding/billing positions require a Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) or Certified Professional Biller (CPB™) credential, with at least three years’ experience working in a medical office or facility.
Many new coders ask why onsite experience is a requirement. When starting out, working closely with other coders and under direct supervision will help with your success. Most entry-level coders work better onsite until they become proficient in coding processes and are confident at working independently.
Coding is an art that is fine-tuned over the years. The more you work with the codes, the better you are at applying their descriptions.
An important thing you need to ask yourself is, “Do I have the commitment?” It takes a dedicated employee to tune out house surroundings and work all day. You can’t stop work to wash those dishes piled up in the sink, finish the laundry, or watch the kids.
The last thing to think about is whether you can you be alone all day, every day. It gets lonely. People prefer to do business interactions via email, rather than on the phone. You may long to hear a live voice. Social media is your personal interaction, your outside connection. There are no more potlucks, Friday pizza parties, or holiday parties. The good news is there is no office gossip or traffic on your commute — unless you count tripping over the cat on your way to the office.
Robin Moore, CPC, CCMA, is a physician revenue cycle coding and documentation auditor for Mercy Health and a remote coder for Himagine Solutions, Inc. She serves as the president of the Toledo, Ohio, local chapter, and she has held other officer positions.