A medical coding business takes medical records and practitioner notes from health care professionals and assigns codes necessary for the payment of medical insurance claims. Typically, medical coding businesses also provide billing services, not only assigning codes but preparing claims and sending them to the appropriate insurance companies. Medical coding and billing professionals work as employees in healthcare practices or start businesses in their own homes or commercial spaces.
Enroll in an accredited program that provides training in the use of software for medical coding and billing, medical terminology, medical transcription and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance. A good preparatory program provides medical insurance training that teaches you how to deal with billing and codes for public and private insurance companies. In addition, training in general topics related to running a business, such as record-keeping, taxation and customer service, prepares you well to open your business.The U.S. Department of Education maintains a database of schools that offer accredited programs in medical billing and coding. These programs last for one to two years. Since clients may prefer certified coders, seek medical coder certification through an organization like the AAPC, which requires completion of an accredited coding program, at least two years of experience and a passing grade on a certification exam.
Medical coding and billing lends itself to either a home-based or commercial office setup. Expect to use technology, rather than in-person meetings, for typical communications with clients. Due to the confidential nature of medical records and HIPAA requirements, your office must lock. Likewise, purchase locking file cabinets for safeguarding your business records, client paperwork and documents containing confidential patient information. In addition, obtain a bookcase or shelf space for keeping your medical reference materials well-organized and accessible.
Equipment accounts for a significant portion of medical coder start-up costs. Purchase medical coding and billing software as well as a program or online tool that makes bookkeeping and invoicing clients easy. Since health practices often provide their notes as audio files, obtain medical transcription software, headphones and a foot pedal as well. In addition, medical coders need coding and terminology reference books, which detail various medical conditions, treatments and the various billing codes used for them.
Your target market consists of doctors, nurse practitioners, dentists, hospitals, surgery centers and clinics. Reach these people and organizations through direct mail and cold calling as well as by distributing brochures and advertising in publications medical professionals read. Increase your customer base by attending medical conferences, seminars and trade shows, where you can introduce yourself to the attendees and explain what you do. Local networking events provide additional opportunities to meet potential clients. Word-of-mouth helps you grow your business, so ask happy clients to tell other medical professionals about your service.
- AAPC: What Is Medical Coding?
- Entrepreneur: How to Start a Medical Claims Processing Business
- AllAlliedHealthSchools: Start Your Business Doing Medical Billing at Home
- AAPC: Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
- Bureau of Labor and Statistics: How to Become a Medical Records or Health Information Technician
- Monkey Business Images Ltd/Monkey Business/Getty Images