If you look at any job forecast or trend story, one industry reigns supreme in terms of growth and availability of jobs: healthcare. The widespread availability of medical care in the United States, healthcare reform, and our aging population in need of more and more medical services of all types as they get older all contribute to this phenomenon.
And while there are plenty of new jobs every day for doctors, nurses, MRI techs, and other providers of all kinds … not all healthcare jobs require you to work with patients. So don’t let that throw you.
In fact, it’s estimated that over 70% of a hospital’s staff is administrative; that is, 70% of the people working in a hospital never interact with patients. They are the behind-the-scenes folks that do the paperwork, data entry, and other “office” work that makes the medical machine run.
But wait, it gets better. With hospital’s converting their old file and paper method of organizing charts and records to digital processes, more and more administrative jobs are becoming available and much of that work can be accomplished at home.
In fact, many medical companies let at least some of their workers to do their job from home. It saves them money not having to provide an office space. Plus, studies show that work-at-home employees are actually more productive.
There’s one sector of the healthcare industry that leading experts are expecting to become more and more in demand – and it provides great opportunities for those seeking to work from home. I’m talking about becoming a Medical Records Technician.
What a Record Technician Does
Doctor’s penmanship is notoriously sloppy. They see a patient for about five minutes, scribble some notes in the record, prescribe something, and they’re off to the next patient. But those scribbles – those barely legible bits of information that are put down in a patient’s record are important. Indeed, they can be extremely important, and in extreme cases, the difference between life and death.
That’s where you, as a Medical Records Technician, ensures the safety of each and every patient that enters your hospital, doctor’s office, or clinic.
I think this would be a good point to tell you about the immense shift hospitals have gone through in just the past couple of years when it comes to keeping track of a patient’s medical history.
A short time ago, all that information was kept in a folder. And in that folder were the scribbled notes and diagnosis of whichever doctor examined you. It could have been many doctors who examined you, meaning there are often many indecipherable handwritten notes in there – years and years worth.
That’s where the Medical Records Technician enters and saves the day.
Your job is to take the individual patient folder and decipher to the best of your ability what diagnosis the physician has annotated there. And each diagnosis has a specific code. If a patient is diagnosed with an inflamed appendix, an earache, or a hernia, there is a very specific code pertaining to that condition that is used in medical records within the hospital and also for filing with insurance companies.
That isn’t to say that you need to become a code-breaker. There’s a big list of codes that you refer to as you enter the data from a record. It’s a reference book – also online – you’ll have a copy of if you take on this job. Once you’ve been at in awhile you’ll memorize the most common ones and your job gets a bit easier every day until it’s second nature.
And if you’re worried about deciphering on your own what a physician meant with that strange curly-cue he scribbled in file – don’t. As a Medical Records Technician, it is your job to get a patient’s file and accurately as human possible. And sometimes that means asking the physician or his staff for clarification. And they’re happy to do it because they realize it’s necessary to ensure their patients safety.
It’s an extremely important facet of today’s medical care. If you’re looking for a serious career in a dynamic, exciting, and interesting environment, becoming a Medical Records Technician could be your dream job.
While it’s not strictly necessary to be accredited in order to find employment as a Medical Records Technician, also known as a Coder, it’s highly recommended that you become certified through the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) program. Not only will you have the officially-recognized credentials, but you’ll learn everything you need to know to find a job and be successful.
Classes for the CPC can be taken online at your own convenience. You’ll gain a sound knowledge of medical procedures, including surgery, pathology, and medicine. You’ll be an expert on the rules and regulations of standard Medical Coding.
Sound good? Well, it gets better.
As I said above, the healthcare industry is the single largest growing economic sector in today’s economy. Folks are living longer and every day better medicines and procedures are being developed to extend out life spans. This means there will not be enough trained people to fill these healthcare jobs. And Medical Coding is a crucial part of any hospital’s success.
In fact, I want you to try an experiment: click on a job board (doesn’t matter which one) and search for Medical Coder or Medical Records Technician. Are you surprised how many vacancies there are? There are probably a few right in your hometown. Obtaining your CPC guarantees you not only a great job, it will more than likely allow you to choose where you work – and, yes, that means from home.
Oh, did I mention the salary range for a Medical Coder? If you go ahead and get your CPC it can be up to $70,000 a year. Not bad, eh?
I wish you the best of luck!
P.S. I just gave you the tips and (hopefully) the motivation to embark on your new career as a medical coder. But here are a few more resources to help you.
How to Become a Medical Records Technician
Medical Records Technician Job Listings