Online Medical Billing and Coding Training

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the demand for medical billing and coding specialists to increase by 21% between 2010 and 2020. Based on their projections, nearly 40,000 jobs will be created in this time, making this one of the fastest growing fields in the nation. Online programs that prepare prospective billers and coders for the field have the same focus: impart students with a working knowledge of coding standards, office administration practices, and medical terms and diagnoses.

Taking Medical Coding and Billing Classes Online

Online training for medical records and health information technicians is similar to — if not identical to — traditional, classroom-based training when it comes to the topics covered. The main difference with online training is the delivery method of class materials. Online courses give students the opportunity to complete their class materials and readings without having to commit to a more formal class time. This can be useful for those with other time-consuming responsibilities that make adhering to a regular class schedule difficult, such as a full-time job or familial obligations.

Whether working towards a certificate or an associate degree, the courses required for medical billing and coding students are designed to prepare them for credentialing exams and entry-level employment. Below is an example of the classes one can expect from an education in this field, whether the classes are completed online or on campus:

  • Medical Terminology: Break down medical terms based on suffix and prefix
  • Anatomy & Physiology: Learn about the different human systems, body functions, and diseases
  • Healthcare Laws & Ethics: Follow proper procedures when handling patient records
  • Health Insurance: Understand the different policies and how to process claims
  • Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) coding: Describe medical, surgical, and diagnostic services
  • International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th edition (ICD-10): As of this year, this is the standard for medical coders
  • Basic Office Skills: Keyboarding, data entry, and office administration

Why Complete Your Training Online?

There are several advantages to pursuing an online degree or certificate over taking the more traditional approach. For one, the cost is typically lower. Online degree programs are often less expensive than traditional programs because students save money on room and board by not having to live on campus, as well as commuting costs even if they did not choose to live on campus. In addition, tuition and supplemental fees for certification exams and application do not differ a great deal between online and on campus programs for medical billing and coding, making online programs less expensive overall.

Scheduling classes is another advantage. Online students are not tied to classrooms and instructor schedules. Though most classes are led by an actual instructor, most online training programs do not require students to be “present” at any particular time as long as they complete their readings and assignments by deadline.

How Online Training Works

Classes are presented in varying formats, from recorded lectures and video presentations to electronic articles and assignments. Online students can listen to or read lectures wherever they have a good Internet connection. They are able to access course materials at any time of the day. However, most exams are timed, and many programs are not self-directed. This means that students are not always able to complete a course whenever they choose because they still must follow provided guidelines and due dates.

Most online programs require at least six months of intensive work. Those best suited for online training in this field are self-motivated, hardworking, and determined. You must understand that deadlines need to be met and must have the ability to multitask, as online students have to essentially guide their own progression through a program, though an instructor often is available for questions and help.

In addition, most online programs still require some in-person field work. Whether taken in person or online, medical billing and coding programs often require students to take an externship or practicum in a physician’s office, hospital, or other health care facility. This allows students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by applying the theory, codes, and terms they learned in class to real-world situations.

It also gives them the chance to build important professional relationships while learning from those already in the field. While it is possible to create your own schedule and remotely code from home, these externships often operate during regular business hours, so it’s still the responsibility of the online student to adjust his or her schedule accordingly.

Keeping Up-to-Date

Online medical billing and coding classes tend to make it easier for those already certified and working in the field to stay up-to-date with coding standards, billing practices, and software upgrades. Certain certifications may even require the advancement of a degree to earn or renew credentials. For example, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) requires an associate degree from an accredited institution for billers and coders to be eligible to sit the exam for the Registered Health Information Technician Certification.

Read through our guides to medical billing and coding training to learn more about what is required to increase skills and knowledge in this field, whether you choose to complete your training online or in a classroom.