What Is Taught in Medical Coding Courses?

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During your schooling to become a medical coding professional, you will undergo rigorous training that will leave you competent and able to land a job at any facility you wish upon graduation. The courses you take will cover a variety of topics, including the actual codes and coding system used in today’s healthcare industry, as well as the medical procedures which they describe.

Further, you will receive a general background in medical terminology so that you can communicate with the professionals who you work for, with, under and over. The coding and classification systems, the reimbursement process, healthcare functions, medical disease (and the treatment of those diseases), will make up the core of your subjects and instill in you a base of knowledge that will make you a highly desirable job candidate.

Core Curriculum

While the institution in which you obtain your education will ultimately determine the exact subjects you will take, there is a general thread of consistency throughout most coursework. Of course, you can expect to take the core curriculum for your desired certificate, diploma, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree; these types of classes include:

  • Math
  • Science / Biology
  • Medical terminology
  • English

These, and similar subjects, will be decided by your institution of higher learning, but you can expect to walk away with proficient skills in mathematics, working in the healthcare industry, and communicating with patients, staff, doctors and insurance agencies. You can also expect to hone your typing skills, if not in an actual course, through the typing of multiple papers and reports.

Additional Subjects Covered

In addition to the core curriculum that will lay a solid foundation of knowledge on which you can build upon, you will also be enveloped in a wide array of actual medical coding material. Once again, the subject matter may differ slightly from school to school, but in general, you can expect to learn about the following subjects:

  • Introduction to ICD-9-CM Classification
  • Introduction to the Elements of a Medical Record
  • Data Abstracting
  • DRG concepts
  • APC concepts
  • Billing Requirements
  • V and E codes
  • Signs, Symptoms and Ill-defined Conditions
  • Infectious & Parasitic Diseases
  • Diseases of the Digestive System
  • Diseases of the Genitourinary System
  • Diseases of the Skin & Subcutaneous Tissue
  • Diseases of the Musculoskeletal System & Connective Tissue
  • Endocrine Diseases & Immunity
  • Mental Disorder
  • Diseases of the Blood & Blood Forming Organs
  • Neoplasms
  • Complications of Pregnancy, Childbirth & Puerperium
  • Abortion & Ectopic Pregnancy
  • Congenital Anomalies
  • Perinatal Conditions
  • Diseases of the Respiratory System
  • Diseases of the Circulatory System
  • Diseases of the Nervous System & Sense Organs
  • Injuries
  • Burns
  • Poisoning and Adverse Effects
  • Complications of Surgery & Medical Care
  • Clinical Chart Coding
  • CCS Test Preparation (including mock test)

Completion of Coursework

Once you finish your initial education, you’ll be ready to take the CCS exam – which is longer and more difficult than the CPC® or CCS-P exam – so you’ll be ready to take those as well or instead. The CCS-P exam involves a lot of I-9 diagnostic (but not procedural) questions, as well as some CPT 4 material. The CPC® exam is more concentrated on CPT with some HCPCS and I-9 diagnostic material being covered as well. The CCS exam is strictly inpatient coding (I-9 diagnostic and procedural, DRG’s etc.) and covers nothing else.

As for which exam you should take, it really depends on the type of facility in which you’d like to work. For instance, if you’d like to work in a hospital or be hired by someone who comes from a hospital background, they are more likely to be aware of AHIMA credentialing process and hire a CCS-P credentialed job applicant. If you’re applying to a private practice or physician’s office (or if the person doing the hiring has a background in physician billing), they will be more aware of AAPC credentials and their value, and more likely to hire someone who has taken the CPC® exam.

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