Distance Learning for Medical Coding – Weighing the Pros and Cons

The growing demand for well-trained medical coders has led to an increase in education and training opportunities for a broad range of medical codes. As such, courses are held in both classroom and distance learning venues; the latter of which is now available for those possessing a computer and the capacity to study via the internet. While this does make for more accessible training programs, there is still a question regarding effectiveness.

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Online training is very different than the traditional classroom setting, as there is little (if any) face-to-face interaction with the instructor and/or other students. So, is distance learning a good development in the industry, or is it resulting in too many less-than-proficient professionals? More simply put, are online classes in the medical field providing high-quality learning? Read on to find out.

Distance Learning Pros

  • Location: Since all the material can be accessed online, you are not limited by where you live. For instance, a person in Ohio can take part in a class that originated in California.
  • Convenience: Online classes are ordinarily taped so that a person can process the material at a convenient time. This can be particularly important for people with jobs.
  • Affordability: Distance learning allows a prospective student to choose a program more suited to a tight budget. Textbooks and learning materials are ordinarily downloadable, so they’re always available and perhaps at a lower price than a standard textbook from a bookstore.
  • Accreditation: As with traditional classroom-based courses, online classes can help a person get the accreditation needed to start and/or advance their career in medical coding.

Distance Learning Cons

  • Responsibility: Unlike formal classroom settings, online classes do not physically meet, so it is the responsibility of the student to “attend” lectures, ask questions, and study the training material.
  • Interaction: With online programs, there is little – if any – interaction with the instructor. Therefore, it is up to the individual to decide whether or not this matters to them, and ones preferred learning style should be considered.
  • Legitimacy: It is sad to say but not all online training programs are legitimate, as there are a number of for-profit institutions that have delivered less than what they promised. As such, thorough research is just as important in selecting online medical coding training as it is for anything else in the marketplace.

Finding the Best Distance Learning Programs

The industry as whole understands the need for would-be professionals to have easy access to training; proof of which can be seen by the fact that both AAPC and AHIMA offer resources to help. AAPC, for instance, provides certification programs designed to qualify medical coding instructors. Any teacher who has the approval of the AAPC should have the expertise to furnish top quality instruction. AHIMA also recognizes the need for reputable and dependable education, and provides a listing of schools with approved medical coding programs on its website. Any online program that has the blessing of either of these organizations ought to be seriously considered by a prospective student.

A Word of Caution

When considering a distance learning program not endorsed by either of these two organizations, it is even more important to show a little caution and do some research before spending money. Be sure to examine the curriculum offered at any online school and compare it against what is offered by AAPC or AHIMA. Also advised is checking the local Better Business Bureau to help uncover potential frauds. It is important that a person acquire the skills needed for the money he or she is paying; online courses can do that, but a prospective student should do their due-diligence before enrolling.

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