The American economy is just now beginning to recover from the economic downturn. People are still leery of the job market given all that has happened, and as such, are looking for job security above everything else. The outlook for any given profession is receiving considerable scrutiny; however, the future for medical coders is pretty straightforward: it’s great! The federal government anticipates that there will be considerable job growth in medical coding (as much as 20%) through 2018, with states such as California, Texas, and Florida experiencing the largest overall increases. Not surprisingly, medical coding salaries are expected to follow this growth, as the demand for accurate medical coders increases.
What Is Fueling the Increase in Medical Coding Jobs?
- The number of medical coders leaving the job market due to retirement or other reasons.
- An aging population in America as the Baby Boom generation moves into its’ golden years.
- A growing demand for accessibility to health care services, which on the national level is reflected in Obamacare. That desire has also been shown in a number of public policy decisions on state and local levels.
- Increased patient load means a greater command for all sorts of medical tests and procedures to be performed. These in turn create an urgency for accurate medical records and billing.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is planning to reevaluate the whole spectrum of health information management, and create other areas that might be staffed by medical coding professionals. Medical coders will certainly thrive in such environments.
The demand for medical coders comes from various locations and facilities. Naturally, doctors’ offices require the services of competent medical coders. Growing demand from other places include Outpatient Care Clinics, Residential Nursing Care facilities, and Hospitals.
How Are Medical Coding Jobs Expected to Evolve?
As job opportunities increase, so will the very nature of the profession. Two major trends you can count on include:
- An increase in home-based employment: Medical coding is an administrative profession that does not require much (if any) face-to-face interaction with patients. This makes a facility’s need to have a medical coder on location less important, and telecommuting a more viable option. Because of this trend, professionals in the field who wish to work from home will have the opportunity to perform their job in their own domestic surroundings, making freelancer workers even more common. Further, this type of medical coder may have his or her own company and interact independently with clients.
- An increase in training demands: While a positive job outlook is good news for any profession, it does pose a extra challenge to medical coders, in the form greater training demands from employers and organizations that offer certifications. For instance, AHIMA seeks to increase education levels so that a baccalaureate or even a graduate degree will be necessary for professional growth. In the meantime, the roll-out of ICD–10 codes is scheduled for use in late 2013 and any medical coder who is not proficient in these codes will quickly be obsolete.
The future looks extremely bright for any medical coder who is willing to take the time to get the necessary education, training, and certification. Rewards, in addition to job security and employment independence, will go to those who are ready.