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A Day in the Life of a Coder

  1. Default A Day in the Life of a Coder
    Medical Coding Books
    I'm working toward my certification and at times I find myself overwhelmed with all of the codes

    For those of you who are already working as coders, what's a realistic view of your daily work? How many codes do you actually use out of the tens of thousands available? How many reports do you work on? Do you work on site or remotely?

    I'm assuming that hospital-based coders will use the widest variety of codes on a daily basis with primary care physicians in second place, whereas those working for specialists (cardiologists, for example) see the same codes over and over on a regular basis. I'd also assume that the former sees a heavier workload than the latter, but I guess that depends upon the size of the facility and the number of coders on staff.

    Any suggestions, words of advice or encouragement, or anything you wish you knew when you were in my position (student, 1/3 of the way through the certification prep course)?

  2. #2
    Smile Day in the life....
    As a student, the idea is to expose you to everything....and I do mean everything that could be thrown at you in the "real" world. Don't be discouraged. You are correct that you will get to know what you work with every day once you settle in to your specialty-either by choice or by accident like I did. I work in Urology and most of my CPT codes that I use every day are in memory-description and all. That's because we only use a few. But the beauty is-you don't have to memorize anything-you have a book for everything! You are more accurate when you code from the book and not from memory anyway. You will likely use a small section but even in Urology, we use ICD-9 codes from Urology, congenital, signs and symptoms, V codes, etc. Keep your chin up-everything is darkest just before dawn. It will get better once you use the codes everyday in a "real-world" situation. Your chapter sisters (and brothers) are always available for support! Hope this helps!

  3. #3
    Default
    Even with using memory it's good to verify with the books to see if any changes were made in the year previous to the code set. If any.

  4. Default
    While with my 8yo at his dentist appointment today, I spoke with some of the staff. It's a small, very friendly office we've gone to for nearly a decade so I knew they'd be willing to speak with me.

    One of the women said that several of the staff handle coding and billing issues and that they have a software program that they use. She said they hardly ever have to look up any codes because most procedures have pictures - tooth extraction, for example, has a picture of a tooth being extracted - that they simply click on and the code appears for them. She said they also have a CPT manual to use when needed, but didn't seem to know much about ICD or HCPCS or modifiers. I'll be there again tomorrow with another child, so I plan to make a short list of other questions to see how things are done at that office.

    Do most specialists have software programs like this?

    I understand the need to expose students to the widest possible variety of coding scenarios, but I'm assuming that infectious diseases like Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency likely don't appear very often in most non-hospital scenarios and that HIV, AIDS, Sepsis, Burns and similar items rarely show up on charts in most practices like psychiatry and pediatric sports medicine. Obviously, anything is possible, I simply mean that most of what we're learning won't come into play if we find ourselves in a small speciality office where we're likely to see the same codes over and over due to the nature of our patient list.

    I'm trying to get through certification, so I haven't given much thought yet into what type of office I'd like to work. My first priority will be finding any employment before I begin to even consider being selective. As such, I'm embracing all of this material with my eyes wide open.

    I'm just interested in hearing what current coders experience in a regular day at their job.

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