I am going out on a limb here. The last time that I offered what was evidence-based advice for job seekers on this forum, I was dismissed because my current and recent roles have all been coding.
Hospitals are one of the more traditional work environments for coders. That does not mean they are the only source of employment, not that they are biggest employers of coders. The same applies for physician practices. It's obvious, all of your classmates are also looking for jobs there. Look at non-traditional jobs, markets and avenues.
Consider dental offices. Although dental coding is a specialty all its own, those folks want to make money and follow payer rules. I imagine they'd find a coder's knowledge beneficial.
Check out DME suppliers and providers. DME can be some of the most specific coding and billing work available, so the challenge is there for seekers.
Pharmaceutical care companies. Drugs are big business in the US health care system and reimbursement is key to keeping it that way. Even though a job of this sort may not be traditional "coding", the billing, pre-auth and related administrative functions align nicely with reimbursement experience (which translates into billing or coding experience).
Health IT/management systems companies are also a great opportunity. Some of these companies offer varied positions, salaries and products, most of which map back to a coding or billing or patient accounting function in some way.
Home health care; I have a colleauge who "grew up" in home health. This is another challenging role. Although many agencies employ a multitude of nurses, they also have billers, coders, HIM specialists and reimbursement professionals to deal with purely administrative functions that keep the doors open and patients being served.
Assisted living and/or skilled nursing facilities. I have never figured out why this is such an underserved area for coding and HIM staff. There just simply aren't a lot of visible folks on the long-term care side of the house, although they're most likely desperately needed.
Medical staffing organizations can open doors. Although typically you are going to see better response to very well experienced and very well credentialed coders, the openings outside coding may not be as highly competitive and can certainly lead to better assignments or job offers.
Rehabilitation services are typically stand-alone ambulatory care where patients come to receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology services and related services. They also utilize administrative staff to carry out a variety of functions. Remember, the key is probably not to expect to become a coder overnight so much as it is to find opportunities that lead you in that direction.
Physician offices and hospitals frequently use laboratory services. The specimens are sent out, tests completed and results communicated back to the providers. These labs have to get paid someway, which indicates they likely have a billing department or service with whom they contract. Great place to consider that's off the beaten path a bit.
Insurance companies and their partners utilize professional coders in a vast array of positions. Certified coders are well qualified to work through out that segment of the industry, but I rarely hear coders intentionally seeking those experiences. Having spent time on the payer side, I believe it is extremely valuable and opens multiple opportunities for growth.
Although personally I believe dialysis is some of the more complicated outpatient coding, there are normally plenty of centers providing this type of care in most moderate-sized cities. Again, they likely have a billing unit or business office that needs hard workers.
Ambulance services generally have some administrative personell and a certified coder should look desirable to these organizations.
Worker's comp, auto, life, cancer and disability insurance carriers. Again, they are non-traditional, but have an established need for folks with an ability to decipher patient records, look over bills and make payment recommendations.
Hospice can provide a rewarding career. Most communities have at least one type of hospice care. This is an opportunity that many nurses seek out, so why shouldn't coders follow?
Don't forget about blood bank services, American Red Cross and similar entities. They have behind-the-scene clerical staff that handle billing, scheduling, reimbursement and other business matters.
Health departments are another option. Generally with health departments, any coding for services would mimic that found in most primary care environments. However, they may be additional, non-traditional roles that a coder can perform, related to disease tracking, research assisting and many more.
These are a few of the "out of the box" settings that might help some of you to find your way. I wish you each the best of luck. While I admit that my career budded before the current job market, I would willingly consider some of these avenues as a replacement for the position I have now.
Last edited by kevbshields; 03-23-2011 at 05:36 PM.
Kevin B. Shields, RHIT, CPCO, CCS, CPC, COC, CCS-P, CPC-P, CPC-I