Medical coders play an invaluable role in the healthcare industry, ensuring that medical data relating to patient conditions, procedures and staff is properly maintained and up-to-date. This critical process enables efficient and accurate billing, as well as effective measurement of the number of treatments and procedures that are being undertaken by one facility.
In terms of the job outlook, it's clear that this is a great time to enter into the medical coding industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of roles within the industry is set to increase by 20% by 2020, with the average salary being just under fifty thousand dollars a year.
When preparing for a job interview within this field, it's important to consider specific skills and technical knowledge that qualify you for such a responsible position. Here are some examples of medical coding interview questions:
What Coding Certifications Do You Have?
Certified medical coders typically earn 20% more than non-certified coders, and generally have better expertise that are sought after by prospective employers. Ideally, you need to complete a certification program before applying for a position and take your qualifications with you to the interview. There are four core certifications offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders. These include:
- CPC (Certified Professional Coder);
- COC (Certified Outpatient Coder);
- CIC (Certified Inpatient Coder); and
- CRAC (Certified Risk Adjustment Coder).
It is important that the job you are interviewing for relates to your current coding qualification, and if it doesn't, that you express willingness to undertake another coding qualification to meet the criteria.
In addition to the four core coding certifications are a large range of other specialist examinations which can better prepare you for more specific positions.
What Specialties Have You Coded for?
This medical coding interview question is designed to assess your existing knowledge level, and how you plan to build on it. There are a huge number of specialties out there that require medical coders, from emergency medicine and wound care to infectious disease and neurosurgery. Your prospective employer will want to know what you enjoyed about your previous medical coding positions, as well as any technical knowledge you acquired or coding systems you used. This will help them make a more informed decision about whether the job you're interviewing for is appropriate for your skill set. If there was a specialty that you coded for that you did not enjoy, try to explain this in a way that demonstrates a learning experience.
What Medical Billing Software Are You Familiar With?
Three code sets are primarily used in healthcare. These are:
- HCPCS Level I;
- CPT®; and
- ICD-9 / ICD-10.
HCPCS Level 1 is a standardized numeric code applicable to non-physician services, such as the recording of medical equipment or rehabilitation procedures.
CPT® codes are the standard code across the United States for reporting medical, surgical, laboratory, radiology, anesthesiology, and management services. All healthcare providers and facilities use CPT® codes and will have an expectation that you're familiar with this procedure.
The ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes came into force in 2015. If you are not familiar with the latest coding technology, then it is critical that you mention this during the interview, but also emphasize your willingness to be trained. If you are new to coding or still to be certified and want to have an edge at your first interview, consider taking the CPC-A / COC-A Practicum. This allows you to achieve 1 year of coding experience to put towards the removal of the apprentice designation. A potential employer will see this as a keen interest in coding and a willingness to work hard.
What Is Your Attitude Towards Undertaking Continuous Training Opportunities?
Medical coders need to be very flexible. The world of healthcare is an ever-changing environment, with new procedures, diseases, treatments and trends emerging all the time. Furthermore, coders are always being introduced to new equipment, procedures and coding software, meaning that you need to remain open minded to change and development. An employer will need to know that you can keep up with these changes and are willing to undertake continuous training.
Medical coders need to be efficient, responsible, communicative and knowledgeable, with a natural aptitude for figures and data. When answering medical coding interview questions, it's imperative that you demonstrate these essential traits.