As the graduation rate of doctors continues to be an issue in the United States, the shortage of physicians is expected to become an even bigger problem. Currently, less than 25% of newly graduated doctors choose to go into primary care, and of that group less than 5% locate their practices in rural areas. In addition to a shortage of primary care physicians, there is also a critical shortage in other specialties such as general surgery. As a result, hospitals and other medical facilities are feeling the strain of having fewer personnel to handle a variety of necessary tasks such as medical coding and billing. To ease the strain on these facilities, many are turning to those people who have received medical billing and coding training to handle the workload.
Medical Billing and Coding Training
For medical facilities that need help handling their vast amounts of paperwork, the trend is to outsource the work to those skilled in medical billing and coding. Most training programs in this field can be completed within six months to one year, and provide graduates with knowledge on numerous topics. Students in medical billing and coding training programs learn the many different coding techniques necessary to ensure medical records and insurance forms display the correct procedures and conditions for each patient, in addition to learning how to bill patients and insurance companies. Upon completing the program, a graduate can choose to take various certification exams from the American Academy of Professional Coders, leading to certification as a Certified Coding Professional. While many medical billing and coding professionals work in hospitals or medical offices, others choose to be self-employed and work from home.
Medical Assistant Certification
Another position helping to ease the strain on the health care system is that of medical assistants. People interested in completing a medical assistant diploma program have numerous options from which to choose, including online studies or in person at community colleges or technical schools. A medical assistant diploma program can be completed within one year, providing a student with knowledge of various medical duties. A medical assistant is not only skilled in handling various office procedures such as scheduling appointments, calling in prescriptions and speaking with insurance companies, but is also able to perform medical procedures. These can include checking a patient’s blood pressure, height and weight and pulse. They can also become certified to perform more complex tasks such as administering EKG’s to patients and performing phlebotomy duties.
As hospitals and medical offices continue to struggle with a lack of doctors, the role of medical assistants and billing and coding professionals will grow in importance. For those seeking a medical career with fast-track training, these two careers are good options.