You’re no doubt reading this because you want to work from home and are looking for a few business startup ideas. You may want to escape prairie-dog-town, home-school your children, or finally do something on your own. Whatever your reason, you can start and grow your medical coder or transcription business by leveraging your past work experience and high level of motivation, and professionalism. There are lots of folks who can empower and enable you.
Medical Coding: When you go to the Doctor for medical help, your diagnosis along with the clinical procedure used to treat your illness or condition is given a code. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) set the standards for the classification systems that healthcare providers must use. Under HIPAA certain codes must be used to identify specific diagnosis and clinical procedures on claims, encounter forms and other electronic transactions. That’s where the Medical Coder comes in. These professionals are responsible for translating healthcare providers’ diagnostic and procedural phrases into coded form. They do this by reviewing and analyzing health records to identify relevant diagnoses and procedures so the appropriate code can be applied.
Codes are published by the U.S. government as a multi-volume set. These codes are being continually updated as new diseases are discovered and identified and new technologies emerge. Coding is performed through a review of the health record on each patient. The coder transforms the documented medical descriptions of patient diagnosis and procedures into numerical codes. Accurate and timely coding does a number of things:
1) provides information useful in the management of diseases and improving the quality of health care,
2) provides data to assure that the appropriate services are being performed,
3) assures the health care facility is promptly and appropriately reimbursed and
4) provides information about the diagnosis and procedure to the people paying for the services.
Although certification in Medical coding is voluntary in the USA, most medical professionals do every bit they can to minimize risk. Coding is a key element in the billing function and compliance with regulatory and other requirements. Therefore, some customers may specifically ask for documented proof of your experience, qualifications, skills, and certification. Remember, the coding must be done right the first time. The doctor has to pay for each code on the bill. Insurance companies will usually pay claims in a timely fashion when the correct codes are used. The doctor has to pay again for each wrong code. Therefore accuracy is vital.
You can augment what you lack in coding experience by showcasing your work experience, high level of professionalism and motivation, your passion for excellence and your dedication to continual learning. Remember you are contracting for services as an independent business owner. You may be able to negotiate with a provider to perform work in their office, gain their trust and later move the work to your home.
If you’re not familiar with Coding and are uncomfortable pursuing this line of work just yet, you may want to take a look at Medical Transcription as a way to gain some background and experience
Medical Transcription: The core of performing the job of Medical Transcription is listening and writing. You will also see this important work referred to as healthcare documentation specialist. You are in effect a medical language specialist who interprets and transcribes dictation by medical professionals. You are a trusted professional who accurately and confidentially captures patient care information by converting voice-recorded reports into text format. You are entrusted with private and personal information to ensure that the information captured is an accurate record of what is dictated. Performing this work requires the ability to interpret dictation correctly and to protect patient records. You must possess the people skills necessary to work directly with medical doctors, surgeons, and other specialists and health care professionals. You do not have to have a certification for this line of work. However, you will have more credibility and probably make more money if you do.
You will have to learn the voice of the person you are transcribing; that may take some time. You will be expected to understand and accurately transcribe medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, diagnostic procedures, pharmacology and treatment assessments. The dictation can range anywhere from ten seconds to ten minutes. Your job is to get this dictation converted into a text file as soon as possible. You then format the reports; edit them for mistakes in translation, punctuation, or grammar; and check for consistency and any wording that doesn’t make sense medically.
So how do you set a reasonable expectation? Let’s say your customer (doctor) sees a patient every 15 minutes and he works a ten hour day. Let’s also assume that your deadline for submitting transcriptions is 24 hours. That is forty transcriptions due in 24 hours. Procrastination is not a trait that works well in this profession. The point here is to negotiate a turn-around time that makes you successful and pleases your customer. If you are not very fast at transcription, you may want to start out by quoting a rate by the page. This also provides your customer a tangible audit of the amount of work you have completed. Discover what a nominal turnaround time is. If it is 24 hours, then comply with that requirement. You may be able to fit in a few more customers and still make your commitments. Be sure to factor in the interruptions for taking children to school, their doctor, and the occasional emergency. Pace yourself and set reasonable expectations for you and your customer. Remind them that you are only a phone call or email away.
If you have little or no experience as a medical transcriber, you may want to land a part-time gig and build your skills and your credibility. Meanwhile, you can set aside some time to train at home and earn your certification.
If you are an experienced medical transcriber – get your business card and brochure in the hands of healthcare professionals. Ask for a trial run and at least a referral.
Bottom line: You’ll never know unless you try.