Medical coding professionals are an important link between health practitioners and health insurance carriers such as Medicaid and Medicare. Part of the health information management team in a health care facility, medical coders allocate standard codes for diagnostics, treatments and other clinical procedures running.

These codified documents then transmit the hands of medical billing professionals who use them to directly host health insurance companies, government or patients.

Thus, if it was not for these professionals, health practitioners will not be reimbursed for their services, at least not as effectively and smoothly as today.

Hospitalized vs ambulatory coding

The medical coding field offers two main career paths that the aspirants can continue – ambulatory coding and hospital coding. Some differences are not just the training required for the two career paths, but also in the work itself. Here are some additional information about patients hospitalized against ambulatory coding:

External Medical Coding: As the name suggests, outpatient coding is to code medical graphics from patients discharged from a health care facility within 24 hours. Thus, external medical coders are responsible for mapping medical records of patients who receive treatments or undergo diagnostic procedures in clinics, doctoral offices or emergency rooms at the hospital the same day.

Hospitalized Medical Coding: This refers to the coding of patient recordings that are required to stay in a hospital or other health care unit for more than 24 hours, hence the coding name of hospitalized patients. Since the medical records of patients admitted to a hospital for treatment tend to be much more complex, this naturally makes the work of hospitalized medical coders that are much more difficult.

Due to the progress of medicine, many procedures previously requiring a stay at the hospital can now be made the same day. What this means is that ambulatory coding is much more prevalent than hospitalized coding.

Another factor to take into account when choosing between host and outpatient coding is that employment opportunities can be more for outpatient medical coders because they can find jobs in a variety of health parameters including hospitals, Physician offices, diagnostic laboratories, ambulatory care and nursing centers, etc.

On the other hand, most jobs encoding hospital patients are limited to large hospitals, although hospitalized medical coders can also find a job with long-term care facilities or health insurance companies.

Medical coding formation

As mentioned earlier in the article, there may be differences in the work of a hospital medical coding training program and an external medical coding training course. However, much of the curriculum remains the same for hospital and ambulatory coding.

Most medical coding programs include different coding systems (ICD, CPT, etc.), health care reimbursement process, medical record types and formats in addition to topics such as medical terminology, Pharmacology, anatomy, etc. which provide students with a thorough understanding of the clinical world.

Aspirants can also choose a medical billing and coding training program that provides them with skills for hospital and outpatient coding. However, it is important to remember that most medical coding professionals begin their careers as ambulatory coders, and then increase the coding of hospitalized patients.