5 Must-Have Skills of Any Good Medical Coder

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor projects that the annual increase in medical coding jobs for the 2010 – 2020 decade will be over twenty percent. Those are great statistics for any job seeker, but it doesn’t mean these jobs are “gift”. Any employer will have expectations for the workers on their staff, and in this economy, there are a number of people waiting in line for employment. As a result, HIM professionals must realize that there are certain skills required for employment. Here are 5 of the most important ones:

1. Attention to detail

Medical coders deal with a considerable amount of information in a given day. The data is very precise and the coding must be accurate in order to ensure proper information categorizing and billing. There is not much room for error, which means a coder must pick through all the trivial information to get to the substance of any diagnosis or treatment, and document it accordingly.

2. Technical savvy

Coding professionals need to have a familiarity with numbers and be comfortable working with them. They cannot be intimidated by computer technology or software, and must be able to switch gears from one software program to another to get the job done. This ability to work with medical software enables the coder to be a more valuable asset for the employer.

3. Social skills

While this is not a profession that requires a ton of direct interaction with a patient, it’s still important to have a certain level of social skills. No coder should assume the job will take place in a vacuum with no outside contact. Professional coders must be able to interact with other healthcare professionals, insurance companies, and sometime even patients… all of which require a level of empathy and diplomacy to get the information needed.

4. Adaptability

Medical coding is a technical, knowledge-based profession. As such, an individual must absorb a considerable amount of highly precise jargon and terminology, and use this language on a daily basis. Change is constant and a proficient coder must be willing to quickly adapt to changes in medical codes and practices. Further, advancements in the field will continue, which makes adaptability an even greater requirement. Of course, adaptability is only enhanced by a willingness to learn, and a person who makes continuing education a part of their career is on the right path.

5. Reading and writing comprehension

Math skills are important, but so are comprehension skills such as reading and writing. A medical coder has to be able to interpret a doctor’s notes and decide how to code diagnoses. Moreover, there may be times when it’s necessary to file a report for explaining the codes used. An inability to write concisely and accurately could be a rather serious problem.

To sum up, 1. Attention to detail, 2. Technical savvy, 3. Social skills, 4. Adaptability, and 5. Reading and writing comprehension, make up some of the most important skill sets for any good coder. Self-evaluation is an important part of any career, and a true professional should continually assess whether or not their personal skill set is becoming obsolete and take any necessary remedial action.

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