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Medical Coding and Billing: Online Diploma

Research online diploma programs in medical coding and billing. Learn about common courses, career prospects, certification information and salary statistics to guide your education decisions.

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Essential Information

Online diploma programs in medical coding and billing are relatively easy to find. Hybrid programs that incorporate traditional classroom learning and distance learning elements are also fairly common. Even in online programs, there's the possibility that students will need to complete a coding practicum on campus. When choosing a diploma program, consider an accredited program, which may help you earn professional certification. Certification for medical coding and billing is voluntary, but it may be preferred by some employers.


Online Diploma in Medical Coding and Billing: An Overview

An online diploma program in medical coding and billing can help students prepare for entry-level health information and medical records technician careers. Students can learn about managing health records and streamlining the healthcare system by using standardized billing and coding practices. Online diploma programs are commonly found at for-profit schools and public community colleges. The curricula typically lasts 10-12 months and could include a supervised practicum that can be completed online or at a local clinic.

Program Format and Delivery

Although coursework in online diploma programs in medical coding and billing can be completed fully online, hybrid classes are also available that require hands-on training and some classroom meetings. Online programs are usually offered in an asynchronous format, allowing students to participate in courses at their convenience.

Lectures and assignments could be delivered through a course management system, such as Blackboard or Moodle, which allows online students to communicate in a message board-style environment. Hybrid or Web-enhanced courses usually involve some face-to-face meetings or hands-on training combined with an online method for submitting assignments and quizzes or receiving grades.

Common Courses in Medical Coding Diploma Programs

Most online medical coding diploma programs require some core coursework in medical terminology, basic anatomy and computer applications. Specialized courses often cover healthcare reimbursement policies, pharmacology and health informatics.

Reimbursement Methodology

Students learn to negotiate payment systems, billing processes and regulatory guidelines related to healthcare costs. Compliance in reporting reimbursements is also emphasized.

Pharmacology

The scientific properties and definitions for medicinal drugs are covered in this course. Drug effects, absorption and classifications are areas of focus.

Health Informatics

Students learn about the design, implementation and application of electronic health information systems in this course. Imaging technology, information security and data modeling are covered.

Career Information for Graduates

Students graduating from an online diploma program in medical coding and billing might find positions like medical records clerk, coder or health information clerk. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for medical records and health information technicians would increase by 21%, faster than the average for all occupations, between 2010 and 2020 (www.bls.gov). As of May 2012, the BLS reported an average annual salary of $36,770 for medical records and health information technicians.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

According to the BLS, employers often prefer to hire applicants with an associate's degree or professional certification. Online associate's degree programs are available, such as the Associate of Science in Medical Coding. Several organizations offer certifications for prospective employees, including the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Many online diploma programs prepare you to take certification exams.

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