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What do Medical Coders Do?

Medical coding is one of the key elements of the medical billing process, which is what generates income for a hospital or medical practice. The role of medical coding is to universalize the language of medical conditions and treatments, making it possible for hospitals and insurance agencies to communicate with each other while retaining all of the correct information. This is done using a system of medical codes. (See: Medical Billing and Coding Training)

Job Responsibilities

The job of a medical coder is to review the records of a patient’s medical conditions and treatment, and use this medical code system to translate the interaction into a series of code numbers. The insurance agency receives the coded information and uses it to pay the hospital.

Within this system, every known condition and treatment is given a unique code number. For example, here are several types of tonsillectomy, in medical codes:

  • 28.2 Tonsillectomy without adenoidectomy
  • 28.3 Tonsillectomy with adenoidectomy
  • 28.4 Excision of tonsil tag
  • 28.5 Excision of lingual tonsil
  • 28.6 Adenoidectomy without tonsillectomy
  • 28.7 Control of hemorrhage after tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy

Medical coders may work in a hospital or clinical setting, usually in a back office, or they may work from home (see: How to Start a Medical Billing Home Business). They have little or no patient interaction, making their job less stressful than those of health care professionals who work with patients. They may also work closely with medical billers in sending and receiving this information to and from insurance providers. Click to see medical coder salary figures.