What does a Medical Coder do?

Learn all about Medical Coder duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become a Medical Coder.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 3 min read

A medical coder is a professional who assigns codes to diagnoses and procedures related to patient medical records. Medical coding is a critical process in the healthcare industry that ensures accurate reimbursement for providers and correct claims processing.

Medical Coder job duties include:

  • Reviewing patients’ medical records and charts
  • Identifying the correct codes for diagnoses and procedures
  • Assigning codes to diagnoses and procedures
  • Abstracting information from patients’ medical records
  • Entering coding information into a computer system
  • Maintaining confidentiality of patient information
  • Updating coding knowledge and skills
  • Communicating with physicians and other healthcare professionals
  • Staying current with coding guidelines and regulations

Medical Coder Job Requirements

Most medical coders have at least an associate’s degree in medical billing and coding, although some employers may require a bachelor’s degree. In addition, most medical coders must be certified through a professional organization such as the American Health Information Management Association or the Board of Medical Specialty Coding and Compliance. Experience is also important for medical coders, as they must be able to understand and apply complex coding rules and regulations.

Medical Coder Skills

  • Medical Terminology
  • Coding (ICD-10-CM, CPT, HCPCS)
  • Medicare/Medicaid Regulations
  • Third-party payer requirements
  • Documentation (EHRs, medical records)
  • Critical Thinking
  • Attention to Detail
  • Time Management
  • Organizational Skills
  • Communication Skills (written and oral)

Related: Top Medical Coder Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become a Medical Coder

There are many ways to become a medical coder. One way is to attend a coding school or program. Many community colleges offer certification programs in medical coding, and there are also many online programs available. Once you have completed a medical coding program, you will then need to pass a certification exam to earn your credential.

Another way to become a medical coder is to have previous experience working in the medical field in a position such as a medical billing or transcriptionist. Many times, employers will provide on-the-job training for employees who show an interest in becoming a medical coder. Having knowledge of medical terminology and experience working with patient records will give you a head start in becoming a successful medical coder.

No matter which route you take to become a medical coder, it is important that you stay current on coding updates and changes. The world of medicine is constantly evolving, and new codes are created regularly. Staying up-to-date on the latest coding information will help you be successful in this ever-changing field.

Related: Medical Coder Resume Example

Related: Medical Coder Interview Questions (With Example Answers)