Medical billing remains one of the fastest growing health-related fields, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This demand is justified when considering the advantages of hiring a professional medical billing staff. A medical billing staff works in a typical office setting, but there are reasons to hire a staff with medical billing training. Medical billing staff is not the same as the staff that welcomes patients, answers phones and makes appointments. While the general office staff at a doctor’s office or medical facility may have some medical knowledge by nature of the job, they have a different job description from someone trained in medical billing.
A medical examiner or biller does not always work directly with patients. In some medical settings, such an individual may work in an area with no patient contact whatsoever. This is not set in stone though. Some medical billers may have limited or regular contact with patients. It depends on the exact nature of the job. Some medical billers are actually the first person a patient meets when checking into a hospital or medical facility. They may be responsible for collecting patient data such as insurance information.
A medical biller must know medical terminology such as the correct name for medical procedures. Additional skills required include:
• General knowledge of anatomy
• Ability to properly code patient information into a database
• Basic computer knowledge
• Ability to type at least 35 words-per-minute
• Good customer service skills, as in contact with colleagues or patients
Medical billers often work in an office setting. This may include working along side of receptionists and other office staff. Some medical billers work in a corporate office, small suburban office or even from home. Hours are usually Monday through Friday with daylight hours. Overtime may be required during busy times. A medical biller may work for an insurance company. In this situation, hours tend to vary. When working from home, a medical biller has the ability to set their own hours. The amount of hours depends on both the individual’s schedule and the workload that can be transmitted electronically.
Reasons to Hire a Medical Biller
While receptionists and other staff working in a medical facility may do some of the same basic duties, there are advantages to hiring individuals with medical billing training. Those trained in medical billing will have a basic knowledge of medical terms and be able to easily enter specific medical codes into a database. Typical office staff may not have such knowledge or may be busy with other duties and not be able to take the time to verify that all information entered is correct. The health care industry continues to grow. This means that doctor’s offices, medical facilities and insurance companies are seeking skilled individuals who can ensure that all information is entered correctly. Medical billing errors can be costly and even dangerous if information is not entered correctly. Such errors may result in costly litigation and other issues.
There are no standards for medical billing training in regards to education requirements. Many employers, however, do prefer some type of formal medical billing training from an accredited vocational school or a career training school. There is no set length of time for such training, but it can range from nine months to two years. Programs promising very short courses aren’t recommended. Certifications differ per program. It is important to do some research a head of time to confirm that any certification you receive is general accepted at doctor’s offices and other places where you may seek employment. Potential sources of employment once medical billing training is completed include:
• Doctor’s office
• Medical testing facilities
• Nursing homes
• Rehabilitation centers
• Insurance companies
• Accounting offices
• Consulting firms
• Legal offices
Advancement opportunities often include supervisor, office manager, director of coding or director of billing and reimbursement. According to the BLS, wadges range from $8-10 per hour when starting and may increase to $30-40 per hour based on experience. Medical billing training can lead to a rewarding career with room for advancement with the right skills.