Medical clerks handle business affairs in a healthcare provider's office. Associate's degree programs in medical billing and coding are available totally online or as combinations of online and on-campus learning. The programs usually require two years of study. For some online courses, students may need to have access to video conferencing equipment.
Associate Degree in Medical Billing and Coding
Online learners are trained in the confidential keeping and transmitting of medical records between patients and doctors. Additionally, students learn basic office administration and computer technology.
Online courses and lectures are viewed using online course management platforms and communications tools, such as e-mail, discussion forums and live chat. Accessing online learning tools requires the use of a computer, meeting the schools hardware and software requirements, and a reliable Internet connection. A headset, webcam and audio equipment may also be necessary to participate in real-time lectures and discussions.
Courses at the associate level prepare students for a specialized career in the handling, transferring and organizing of medical files. Prospective medical clerks gain a comprehensive knowledge of useful medical and legal terminology, federal and state regulations, coding techniques and word processing.
The Language of the Medical Field
In this course, students learn medical terminology, which is the complex language used in the medical field. Online learners are trained in word roots, suffixes and prefixes as they relate to diseases, various medical specialties and medical procedures. Additionally, online learners gain hands-on experience in medical specialty procedures.
Basics of Billing with Computers
Students get practice using specialized computer software for medical billing and coding. Inputting of patient information, processing of patient transactions, producing reports and processing of claims are all topics of focus in this course.
Basics of Laws and Ethics in Medical Information
This course covers the legal and ethical aspects of working with private patient information. Students study specific state and federal laws concerning the handling of patient information and procedures for confidential communication. It also covers medical and legal terminology.
Graduates of these programs are prepared to work in occupations including medical secretary or clerk, medical claims analyst, billing controller, claims assistant and patient account representative. While certification is not required, many employers prefer to hire someone who holds credentials from a professional organization. Getting certified may require only graduation from an accredited training program, or it may call for passing a competency exam. Maintaining a certification may require completion of continuing education programs in the field.
Generally, medical clerks with formal office education can find positions in hospitals, doctor's offices and clinics. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment rate for medical records and health information technicians, is expected to grow by 15%, which is much faster than the national average, from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reports median annual wages for medical records and health information technicians of $37,110 in May 2015.
In online associate's degree programs in medical billing and coding, aspiring medical clerks gain familiarity with basic office technology, as well as relevant medical and legal concepts. Graduates are prepared for entry-level office work in a wide range of healthcare facilities.