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Hierarchy of coders??

  1. #1
    Smile Hierarchy of coders??
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    Hi there -

    I was having a discussion with a facility coder who said to me that I am "just" a physician coder and that if I really want to "move forward" I should get my CCS certification and become a facilty coder. What I explained to her is that I felt physician coders & facility coders have different skills; one is not necessarily better than the other.
    It got me wondering if there is a culture in the coding community that feels facility coders are more respected and/or skilled than physician coders (or vice versa).
    I do realize that I am asking this in a forum of mostly physician coders, but I would still like to hear opinions.


  2. Default
    I heard that in patient hospital coders make alot more money then physician coders. I would be very interested to know if that is true. I do know that in patient hospital coders often have to work weekends.

  3. #3
    Dover Seacoast New Hampshire
    Facility coding is not "better" or more complicated than physician coding, it's simply different. Physician coders have their E&M auditing, procedural, compliance, and billing knowledge, while the facility coders have to be well-versed in both ICD-9 CM and PCS. There are lots of rules regarding how and what can be reported, and they have to be able to abstract and sequence the codes in a very accurate manner.

    In my hospital, the pay range is equal. From where I sit, the physcian coders have a broader overall scope of knowledge, but the facility coders are responsible for the correct coding of some pretty hefty receivables. They also typically have more clinical understanding. It all works out.

    That your facility coder would make such an unprofessional comment is probably the bigger issue here. I wouldn't let it ruin your day!

    That all having been said, I would never (nor would my facility coding manager colleague) condone any such antagonism towards each other's staff. We're all working together towards the same goal.
    Pam Brooks, MHA, COC, PCS, CPC, AAPC Fellow
    Coding Manager
    Wentworth-Douglass Hospital
    Dover, NH 03820

    If you can dream it, you can do it. Walt Disney

  4. #4
    I agree with Pam, we have 3 separate "sets" of coders, outpatient facility, inpatient, and physician within our hospital. We all have the same pay grade, and it's based on experience, not which area we work. Each set has their own specialty, if you will. It doesn't make them smarter, or better. It just makes them different. I started in facility coding and switched over to physician. I like both areas and I'm not less intelligent because I chose to come to physician coding. I certainly do not consider myself "just a physician coder".
    Having said that, the CCS credential is more widely recognized for inpatient coding. Both of our inpatient coders here are AHIMA certified and two of our outpatient coders are AHIMA certified, but 5 of us are AAPC certified, two physician coders and 3 outpatient coders. So, we do have a variety here.
    Best of luck!
    Anna Weaver, CPC, CPMA, CEMC
    Associate Auditor

  5. #5
    Louisville, KY
    I know you probably did not find the situation humerous, but it is funny--if you think about. Coders come in all professional "flavors", so it's a tad ridiculous for any of us to look down our noses at anyone else.

    There are coding assignments that are easier than others, those are usually the beginner assignments--meant to develop people into full-scope practice coders.

    One really isn't any better than another. I see less of that on this forum than on some others. It's sad.

    Anyhow, good luck to you and do not let anyone drive your career . . . it's your choice.

  6. #6
    It was definately my first encounter with what I call a coding "snob"! Who knew they existed? I have been a CPC for a long time now, and I just wanted to understand if this was an individual opinion or a current trend I was missing.

    Thanks for your input. I especially appreciate the comment that we are all working toward a common goal and it was highly unprofessional for that coder to speak down on my skills.

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    I think I may have been (before this post) a little bit of a closet coding snob. (GULP) I don't know why, but I always viewed the inpatient coders as having the most difficult jobs (and I'm not sure why), outpatient coders in the middle (because of the in depth surgeries), and physician coders having the easiest (not that their jobs are easy!!). That being said, I do realize every coding position has their own aspect of easy and difficult issues. I NEVER looked down on ANY coders as it isn't an easy job (even if Sally Struthers lets you think you can take a quick home coding course and then go of into the world of coding )...I guess I just thought the physician coders had a smaller area of "headaches" to deal with. I repect you ALL!!

  8. #8
    Ogden Utah
    I've done all forms of coding and realize the challenges in each area. To me, I by far enjoy the Physician and Outpatient coding areas more than I do the Inpatient. That's just me I am realizing that there is more of a market, just due to perusing the job boards, for Inpatient coders. Due to that, I am finally breaking down and picking up my IP credentials. All in all, coding is coding is coding is coding, whether you are doing E&M or DRG, you are still figuring out a puzzle to best represent the services provided, catch revenue, and cover all required bases.

  9. #9
    Default Wonderful discussion
    Thanks all for the wonderful discussion

  10. #10
    Greeley, Colorado
    NO ONE IS EVER "JUST" ANYTHING. We are all of value, and for someone to say you are "just a_______" indicates that he/she thinks more highly of themselves than they probably should. That statement galls me.
    Lisa Bledsoe, CPC, CPMA

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