Strategy is Key
Becoming a Certified Professional Coder is no easy feat, and the exam administered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) is a long, grueling assessment. Of course, the exam will present CPCs-to-be questions on CPT codes, Evaluation and Management, the bodily systems, and the application of multiple code sets – but that’s not all. The exam is designed in such a way that test takers must approach it with strategy in mind. Passing the AAPC Certified Professional Coder exam requires you to know not only how to be a successful medical coder, but also how to take the test. In order to receive CPC certification, you must earn a 70% or higher on the exam – which means that test strategy cannot be ignored. Not all CPC Prep Courses are created equal, and many will only teach students course content – verbatim – from the textbook. Unfortunately, this does not align with the learning style of many people, and oftentimes results in the need for retakes. Make sure you find a CPC Prep Course* that offers learning modules on test strategy and course content, and do your research on the benefits of a customized curriculum vs. generic modules.
Growth, Growth, Growth!
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for those in the health information field will increase at least 15% by 2024 – twice the average growth rate for all other occupations in the United States. As the population ages and healthcare experiences a paradigm shift, the need for medical coders will increase. This is because of claims documentation growth, and the integration of Electronic Health Records.
The CPC certification is inherently diverse. Certified medical coders can use their credentials to serve as medical record auditors, provider educators, and consultants. The opportunity for growth in these professions is also positively related to the increasing need for healthcare services. As long as there is a need for healthcare, there will be a need for medical coders, billers, and auditors.
If this isn’t enough to convince you of the promising future that lies ahead for Certified Professional Coders, it may interest you to know that the annual salary for a medical coder is above the national average, and is projected to remain in that position.
The Learning Never Stops
In order to maintain your CPC certification, the AAPC requires their credentialed members to acquire Continuing Education Units (CEU). Typically, these CEUs cost money, and are attained after coders participate in a specific learning opportunity. CEUs may be earned through seminar and webinar attendance, educational conferences, or through quizzes posted by AAPC-approved institutions. As a CPC, it will be important to know when and where you can access free or low cost CEUs. Advize Health currently provides 30 free CEUs per year to the medical coding and auditing community. If you haven’t already, subscribe to our free monthly newsletter for access to exclusive updates, webinars, and coding articles.
The World is Your Office
The window of opportunity for Certified Professional Coders is wide open, and many will be given the choice between working remotely or working in an office with other coders, billers, or medical record auditors. At this point in your career, you’re probably well-versed in the benefits and pitfalls of working amongst your peers – so we’ll spare you the details and instead discuss the enigma that is remote work.
Let’s start with the pros. Working remotely provides CPCs with the opportunity to work from their own home, or from a cushy hotel room (with secure WiFi, of course!). It’s an incredible sense of liberation to realize that you have obtained #FreedomToCallYourOwn. Working in an environment of your own design can do wonders for your mood and productivity throughout the work day. The flexibility of working remotely is convenient for stay-at-home parents who need to pick up children from day care, cook meals, or even run a few errands. For many remote CPCs, your work day doesn’t have to exist between the hours of 9-5, as long as you still establish some type of routine.
On the other hand, the solitude of working from home could leave you susceptible to cabin fever. Having limited interaction with your peers could cultivate a sense of loneliness, which would adversely affect your productivity. Many people thrive on the energy gained through interacting with those around them – and if that’s you, it will be important to find a support system. Even when selecting your CPC Prep Courses, be sure that you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor, or other students. This communication, whether it be on the phone, or through a webcast – will help you ease into your transition as a remote worker, and will teach you how to make the most out of virtual communication channels. You’d be surprised to see just how much better you feel after a quick call with a peer or supervisor. Chat rooms, discussion boards, and Facebook groups for CPCs are also extremely valuable resources for remote coders who are looking for advice, interactions, and collaboration.
You’ll Be Making a Difference
If there’s one thing you should know about becoming a CPC, it’s that you’ll be making a difference in the healthcare field. The union between provider and coder is a bridge to high-quality, resonant, and enviable care for all patients. Medical coders and auditors are the silent champions of patient care. Medical coders are responsible for reviewing patient documentation and coding procedures – the first line of defense against fraud and the subsequent increasing cost of healthcare. By following the patient’s journey beyond the exam room – medical coders are keeping the integrity of healthcare at the forefront of their minds.
If you choose to use your CPC in supplementing your medical record auditing career, you too are contributing to the paradigm shift of healthcare, and working to lower costs for patients. Auditors are a protective unit operating on both ends of the spectrum, recovering funds and allocating them accordingly.
Good physicians focus on the physical and mental health of a patient, but coders and auditors grab the baton and carry with them the patient’s financial health, awareness, and privileged information.
*CPC Prep Bootcamps are also available for those who seek fast accreditation.