As an instructor for an online school, I know the value of a good training program. I’ve heard horror stories of people spending $10,000 or more on coding or billing training, given false promises, and then not being able to find a job. This article will discuss the value of getting proper training to get a career as a medical coder.
Career or vocational training for medical coding should take anywhere from three months to one year. This kind of training doesn’t offer extra classes like Math, English or accounting. It focuses solely on learning to code and bill the patient medical record correctly.
A good school should offer training in ICD-9, CPT and HCPCS coding. There should be an option to learn medical terminology and anatomy, if the student did not have similar courses in the recent past.
A good training program should have a knowledgeable instructor that you can reach via both e-mail and telephone. Response time to questions should be within 24 to 48 hours. The material should follow a logical format, must be easy to follow, and should contain interactive quizzes and exams.
Below, you will find a list of questions to ask and actions to take before enrolling in any program.
- Ask recent graduates of the program if they had a positive experience. Were they able to get questions answered quickly? Do they feel prepared for national certification testing?
- Ask if you have an instructor and what their turnaround time is for answering questions. Additionally, ask if you can call an instructor or if communication is strictly via e-mail.
- Ask how long the program has been in business.
- Go online and check different coding message boards and ask where others have trained.
- Consult the Better Business Bureau to see if the school has many unresolved complaints against it.
- Does the program include study materials or classes for national certification exams?
- Do you have to buy the coding reference manuals or are they included in tuition?
- Ask about how much time you have to complete the program, and what happens if you go over your enrollment term.
- Compare the cost of the course with other similar programs. If there is a large difference in pricing, ask why.
- Are the sales people making promises of huge income and easy jobs? If so, they are exaggerating, and you may be better served by looking into a different program.
- Whether the course you attend is online or in-person, it is important to understand the reputation of the school, qualifications of the instructors, and to compare quality and pricing with other similar programs. There are many good, solid programs out there, but there are also some unscrupulous businesses with inflated pricing offering unrealistic promises to unsuspecting consumers. Be careful. Be wise. Ask questions.