Medical Coding and travel?

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Hello medical coders! I'm currently working on my certification through AAPC. In a few years, with some experience under my belt, my dream is to work from home. My question is, how travel-friendly are remote coding positions? I'm sure some of this depends on the facility, but I love to travel and I dream of being able to travel globally while working remotely for a US facility. Coders with experience in the industry, do you think this is possible? Thanks in advance!
 

thomas7331

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It is certainly possible to do this, but the one overriding concern these days that can limit this is information security. Employers are becoming increasingly strict about how remote employees access health records. Some employers may only allow you to work through a dedicated internet line so although you could theoretically work from any location, you can't really move around because you'd have to get new internet service each time. Others may require that you designate a home office space as your workplace. In addition, I know that there are some restrictions on government payer PHI that apply to locations outside the country - if your job involves accessing that information you may find that they will not allow you to do this work from another country. Another consideration is if you're using a company computer and you have a problem that needs repair or support, you will be expected to take it to a location where it can be fixed and if you're out traveling somewhere, that could mean a lot of expense and/or missing work. A lot depends on the nature of the particular job and on what policies the employers have put in place to protect their records, so you'll need to investigate this with each opportunity - just because it's a remote position doesn't mean they'll allow you to work anywhere, or be able provide you the resources you need (phone, computer, internet, IT support etc.) at any location.

At this point in time, there are definitely jobs available that still provide the ability to access from multiple locations with some degree of freedom, but as time goes on and companies tighten their rules to prevent HIPAA violations and reduce their liabilities in the event of a breach, I expect we may see these opportunities become fewer.
 

CodingKing

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As stated above, It seems most remote positions especially for beginners want you to work a normal schedule 9-5 and due to HIPAA they seem to want a locked office, connect via wired internet etc. There are traveling coder positions as well but its usually going onside to Dr offices and hospitals to do onside records pulling and review for HCC & HEDIS, i think those want at least a minimum of LPN or RN though but i'm not sure.

I do happen to have one of the unicorn remote jobs that fell into my lap in November where i can work anywhere w/ wifi for short periods of time. Although I'd rather enjoy my vacation in Hawaii next month instead of working. I tried working from Beijing in November but it didn't go so well since internet was not stable there. However there is no PHI involved in my job as it's not production coding. I just get contract rate exhibits and I build the fee schedules. its also a position where i'm the SME (Subject matter expert) so I don't need supervision or assistance. It took years to get here though. While its not impossible, there just aren't many jobs this flexible. Plus its exhausting.
 

mitchellde

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It does depend on who you work for. I work for one company doing consultations and speaking which is total travel, I am allowed to pick up extra speaking or consultations outside of what the company sets up. I also work as a remote coder and work off of a company provided laptop but I have my own wifi hotspot that I use when not at home. Totally HIPAA compliant as long as I sign in thru the password protected VPN. So it is possible but you will need to work at getting this type of employment and ask yourself what you are really wanting to do. Also interview the company just as aggressively as they interview you. Find out what you are allowed to do and not allowed to do. Also if it is a travel position find out what they pay for up front and what you are expected to expense and how promptly they pay.
 
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Thank you all for your input! It has given me a lot to think about. I worry that the ease of working from home isn't what I thought it was with this field, especially with the HIPAA concerns you all brought up.

As far as the technological issues, I wonder if using an aircard is an option for secure internet? My dad works for Hospice and the company provides that for his work laptop so he can use it on the road and on his work from home days.
 

Pam Brooks

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An aircard is not an option for internet access with most companies. We require a static IP address and prefer a business connection for all of our home-based coders. That's a good question, and I'm glad you brought it up. Remote coding is simply not a plug-and-play venture!
 
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