Medical coding is a great career option for most of the professionals. But, in any field one has to keep learning to be ahead in this competitive world. Such competition is also there between medical coders. Coding CPT and ICD code for a medical report is not easy for everyone. Many of us think we get easily become medical coder and survive in the field of medical coding. But, I would suggest there is very healthy competition in Medical coding, so do not ever take it for granted of being a medical coder. These days you can see ICD 10 have replaced the ICD 9 codes, so those who are Certified ICD 10 coders will have more preference than non-certified ICD 10 coders. This itself shows one have to keep yourself updated and improve your skills with time to be ahead in the field of medical coding.

How to improve your Skills in Medical Coding

Never take it for Granted

I hope you have listen this phrase most of the time. After learning basic coding guidelines for CPT and ICD codes many of us think that is enough to survive in medical coding. But, if you ask from a highly experience medical coder he or she will always say Medical coding is like an Ocean, one has to keep learning new things everyday. So, I would suggest do not take if for granted being a Medical coder, either you are certified or non-certified. Coding guidelines are very helpful for preparing and clearing a CPC exam, but coding live medical charts is totally different. One has to keep learning and give certification exams to grow in this field. Don’t Stop after CPC or ICD 10 certification, try to get certified from AHIMA as well, which will be great boom to your career. Professionals who have credentials both from AAPC and AHIMA have very good opportunity in Outpatient and Inpatient coding  facilities.

Be Updated with CPT and ICD codes

Every year we have new CPT codes in codebooks. With new CPT codes, few of the old codes get deleted. This year also we have many CPT codes changes in 2017. There are many CPT code changes in diagnostic radiology for coding AV fistula and spinal epidural injection. So, do check the DOS (date of service) of medical report before using old or new CPT codes. We have started using ICD 10 codes from last October 2015, which is a very big change in diagnosis coding. There is very big difference between ICD 9 and ICD 10 codes. ICD 10 codes have increase widely in numbers and are very specific. The main coding guidelines are still the same  but there are many new ICD 10 codes which has to be taken care off.

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Improve skills for ICD 10 coding

ICD 10 codes are alphanumeric codes. In ICD 9 we don’t have any specific codes but ICD 10 has many specific codes. For example, for coding unilateral, bilateral and unspecified diagnosis codes for extremities we have specific codes in ICD 10, but in ICD 9 we have only one code for all. I have already shared an article for on this topic here. In ICD 10, we have different codes for coding sepsis and severe sepsis. This topic is also important to learn which require multiple diagnosis codes. One more topic which we have difficulty in ICD 10 coding is Pregnancy complication codes. Coding pregnancy complication is little complicated and very specific in ICD 10. In ICD 10, we have specific codes for first, second and third trimester and weeks of gestation. Z3A category codes are used to specify the number of weeks of gestation. Z3A category codes are used as secondary codes with pregnancy complication codes. Excludes 1 and Excludes 2 are the new enteries in ICD 10 coding. Excludes 1 codes conditions do not occur together, but their may be exception when we can code these codes together while Excludes 2 codes can be coded together as per coding guidelines. 

Time for Certification Exams

Once you are confident with CPT and ICD codes, one has to start appearing for medical coding certification exams. CPC (Certified professional coder) exam is the best for a fresher in Medical coding. I have already shared how to clear CPC exam without training in my previous post. You can get few tips about how to clear CPC exam. Clearing Certification exams gives you confidence and learn more about the field. I have few sample Medical coding charts as well for medical coders. Some Certification exam like CCS (Certified Coding Specialist) conducted by AHIMA have objective plus subjective questions. So, coders should have healthy experience in coding live medical charts. Questions are asked from all the facilities and hence one should be prepared thoroughly for the exams. Surgery section needs more attention, I have few tips for improving skills in surgery coding as well. You can get the best sample CPC exam guide here which will surely help you in clearing this exam.