5 Things You Didn’t Know About Medical Billers and Coders in Teaching Hospitals

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Medical billers and coders are responsible for translating details in patients’ records to insurance companies for gaining proper reimbursement. Every healthcare organization depends on medical coding and billing staff to remain profitable. Yet teaching hospitals are one of the leading employers of HIT professionals. In general, teaching hospitals are nonprofit medical centers affiliated with a university to train clinicians. They provide round-the-clock care in various specialties, from pediatrics to neurology and cardiac care. Interns and residents treat patients under close supervision from attending physicians. For medical coding and billing graduates, working for a teaching hospital can provide both rewards and challenges. Read on to learn five things you should know about medical billers and coders in teaching hospitals.

1. Medical Coding and Billing Jobs Abound in Teaching Hospitals

The American Hospital Association reports that there are 5,627 registered U.S. hospitals total. Of these, 1,038 are teaching hospitals with high patient numbers. Some of the best are Yale-New Haven Hospital, NYU Langone Medical Center, and Johns Hopkins Hospital. Teaching hospitals employ more than 2.7 million healthcare professionals nationwide. It’s no surprise that medical billers and coders find less competition for jobs in teaching hospitals. After all, university-affiliated hospitals house 82 percent of the country’s ACS-designated Level I trauma centers. Teaching hospitals need large medical records management offices to protect inpatient and outpatient data. Medical coding and billing specialists can expect jobs in teaching hospitals to multiply because the field projects 10-year job growth at 15 percent.

2. Teaching Hospitals Provide Higher Salaries to Medical Coders and Billers

In comparison to several other healthcare settings, teaching hospitals grant above-average salaries to their medical billing and coding staff. According to the AAPC 2015 Salary Survey, medical billers and coders make $50,925 on average at inpatient teaching hospitals. That’s more than the $44,870 at mid-sized medical groups and $45,722 at independent physician offices. Teaching hospitals on the Pacific Coast from Hawaii to Washington report the highest medical coding and billing salaries nationwide at $57,021. Landing a job at a teaching hospital can considerably pad your paycheck, especially if overtime is offered. Due to their large size, teaching hospitals are also more likely to hire clinical coding directors with lucrative salaries.

3. Medical Billers and Coders Benefit from Learning Support

Teaching hospitals offer an academic-focused work environment where cutting-edge education and research is prioritized. Medical coding and billing jobs may require less post-graduation employment experience because on-the-job training is included. Teaching hospitals encourage staff to sharpen their skills with continuing education. For instance, Rush University Medical Center provides full-time employees with $5,000 in tuition assistance each year. This makes attending college online or during evenings more affordable. Medical coders and billers in teaching hospitals also join an active research community. Teaching hospitals receive approximately $2.2 billion in NIH research funding annually. Therefore, the HIM department will continually search for the latest tech advancements to streamline medical coding and billing.

4. Teaching Hospitals Require Extra Vigilance in Medical Coding and Billing

Being careful and attaining high accuracy is important for every medical coder. But those employed in teaching hospitals often have extra responsibility in checking over patient records. Teaching hospitals always experience new rotations of interns and residents who are unfamiliar with record protocols. New waves of med school students can mean patient records accessed by coders and billers are less orderly. One study found 10 percent reduced mortality risk at teaching hospitals, so they don’t compromise quality of care. However, clinical documentation can get muddled in the process. Teaching hospitals may hire experienced coders and billers to conduct medical auditing. Pursuing the AAPC’s Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA) credential would come in handy here.

5. Medical Coders and Billers Frequently Process Larger Claims in Teaching Hospitals

Teaching hospitals typically charge more for medical services because they treat higher acuity patients with complex conditions. Funds are also included for the hospital’s research and academic instruction. For example, George Washington University Hospital charges $69,000 on average for lower joint replacement. Sibley Memorial Hospital, a nearby community hospital, charged under $30,000 in comparison. Medical coders and billers must be prepared to figure the dollar signs with higher hospital rates. Considerable time will be devoted to coding for diagnostic tests because teaching hospitals order 7.1 percent more tests than their non-academic counterparts. Medical billing specialists should be aware that teaching hospitals are largely urban and accommodate vast numbers of Medicaid or uninsured patients.

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