How To Become A Medical Coder And Work From Home: A Step-by-step Guide

By Robert David Orr / Last updated: Dec 18, 2022

Have you ever dreamed of ditching the daily commute and working from the comfort of your own home?

If you’ve ever thought getting a medical coding job, or you’re already a medical coder, this dream may be a reality. Can medical coders really work from home?

Yes, many medical coders do work from home. In fact, the trend towards remote work in the healthcare industry has been on the rise in recent years, especially for health information technicians, and medical coders are no exception.

However, it’s important to understand the specific requirements and considerations that come with working from home as a medical coder.

In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of medical coding from home, including the benefits and challenges, the necessary equipment and skills, and the steps you can take to become a successful remote medical coder. So if you’re interested in the idea of working from home as a medical coder, read on to find out more.

Real quick, before we get too far into it here, if you want to connect with other remote workers or would love to make your home office space the best join my free private Facebook group, Home Office Hacks here.

What do medical coders do?

How to Work From Home

Medical coders are responsible for reviewing patient medical records and assigning numerical codes to diagnoses, medical services and medical procedures. These codes are used to create a patient’s medical history, which is used to bill the insurance company, file insurance claims, and track patient treatment.

The job of a medical coder involves reviewing medical records and other documentation, such as lab reports and notes from doctors and nurses. From this information, the medical coder must determine the appropriate codes to assign to each diagnosis and procedure. This can involve looking up codes in a coding manual or using specialized software to help identify the correct codes.

In addition to assigning codes, medical coders may also be responsible for reviewing and correcting codes that have been assigned by others. They may also be required to keep track of coding updates and changes, and to stay current on new coding guidelines and regulations. Medical coders may work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private medical practices. They may also work remotely, using electronic medical record systems to access patient records and assign codes.

Can you work remotely as a medical coder?

Yes, it is possible to work remotely as a medical coder. Many healthcare organizations have implemented telemedicine and other remote work technologies, which has made it possible for many medical coders to work from home.

To work as a medical coder from home, you will typically need a computer with internet access and the necessary software and tools to do your job. You may also need to have a secure, private workspace in which to work. Some medical coding positions may require you to have a specific type of computer or software, such as a software program that helps you assign codes or access medical records.

It is important to keep in mind that working from home as a medical coder may require a certain level of self-motivation and discipline, as you will be working independently without the support of a traditional office setting. You will also need to be able to communicate effectively with your team and meet deadlines, even when you are working remotely.

Equipment do you need to work from home as a medical coder

To work from home as a medical coder, to start with you need a good computer with high-quality internet access along with the necessary software and tools to do your job.

Not only will this include the medical coding software, electronic medical record systems, and other specialized programs but it will also require standard work from home software like email, but also personal productivity tools like Microsoft Office, or Google Docs.

It’s vital to have a reliable computer and internet connection when working from home as a medical coder. Your computer should be fast and have enough memory and storage to handle the demands of your job.

The minimum RAM and processor requirements for a medical coder’s computer will depend on the specific software and tools that you need to use in your work. However, a computer with at least 16 GB of RAM and at minimum a 1.2GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 processor which are both common on most Macbook computers and should be sufficient for most work as a medical coder to run medical coding tasks and the other associated apps that will no doubt be running at the same time.

You will also need a reliable internet connection to access patient records and other resources. A broadband internet connection with download speeds of at least 25 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps should be sufficient for most of your work.

Keep in mind that these are just minimum requirements, and you may want to consider a faster internet connection if you will be using resource-intensive software or running multiple applications at once. It’s also a good idea to check the internet speed requirements for any specific software or tools that you will be using in your work as a medical coder.

Aa slow or unreliable connection can hinder your productivity and efficiency. Investing in a good-quality internet service can pay off in the long run by making your work as a medical coder more efficient and enjoyable.

In addition to a computer and internet access, you may also need other equipment to do your job effectively. This may include a printer, scanner, and other office equipment, as well as a comfortable and ergonomic workspace. It is important to have a private, quiet space to work in order to maintain confidentiality and focus on your tasks.

Home office requirements for a medical coder

In order to work effectively as a medical coder from home, you will need to have a dedicated workspace that is private, quiet, and free from distractions. This may include a separate room or a designated area within a room where you can work.

In addition to your computer, printer and internet access, a medical coder working from home may need the following office supplies and equipment:

  • Scanner: A scanner can be useful for digitizing physical documents and records, such as paper medical records or lab reports.
  • Office supplies: Basic office supplies, such as pens, pencils, paper, envelopes, and labels, may be needed to do your job as a medical coder.
  • Phone and headset: A phone and headset can be useful for making and receiving calls, as well as for participating in conference calls and virtual meetings.
  • Comfortable and ergonomic chair and desk: As you will likely be sitting and working at your computer for long periods of time, it is important to have a comfortable and ergonomic chair and desk.
  • Backup power supply: A backup power supply, such as a uninterruptible power supply (UPS) or generator, can be useful in case of a power outage.
  • Other specialized equipment: Depending on your specific job requirements, you may need other specialized equipment, like a shipping label printer, shipping supplies, associated coding manuals.

Want to learn more? Here is everything you need to be successful working from home.

What are the benefits of working as a medical coder?

There are several benefits to working as a medical coder:

  1. Job stability: The healthcare industry is consistently growing, which means there is a high demand for medical coders. This can lead to job stability and the potential for long-term employment.
  2. Flexibility: Medical coders may have the option to work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private medical practices. Some medical coders may also be able to work home jobs or on a part-time basis.
  3. Competitive pay: Medical coders typically earn competitive salaries, with the potential for earning additional income through bonuses and overtime pay.
  4. Career advancement: Medical coders can pursue additional training and education in order to advance their careers and potentially increase their earning potential.
  5. Opportunities to work remotely: Many medical coders have the option to work remotely, which can offer flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere with an internet connection.

Overall, working as a medical coder can be a rewarding and stable career choice with the potential for flexibility, competitive pay, and career advancement opportunities.

How much do medical coders working from home earn?

The average annual salary of a medical coder working from home can vary depending on factors such as the coder’s level of education and experience, the specific industry they are working in, and the location of the job.

As with most things, higher levels of education will open more doors and remote medical coders with at least an associate degree tend to earn more as does someone with a bachelor’s degree.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for medical coders was $46,660 as of May 2021. The BLS also reports that the lowest 10% of medical coders earned less than $28,480 per year, while the highest 10% earned more than $64,190 per year.

Keep in mind that these figures are just estimates and may not accurately reflect the salaries of all medical coders working from home. It is always a good idea to research salary data for specific industries and locations to get a more accurate idea of what you can expect to earn as a medical coder working from home.

What skills do you need to be a successful medical coder?

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Overall, to be a successful medical coder, you will need a combination of technical skills, attention to detail, and good communication and problem-solving skills. These skills will help you to accurately review and assign codes, communicate effectively with colleagues and patients, and stay current on coding guidelines and regulations.

Let’s talk a little more about what’s involved. To be a successful medical coder, you will need the following skills:

  1. Attention to detail: Some people are seemingly born with this skill, while others are not. Medical coding involves reviewing and assigning codes when a doctor performs a medical procedure or makes a diagnosis and this requires a high level of attention to detail. You will need to be able to accurately read and interpret medical records and other documentation, and to carefully select the correct codes to assign.
  2. Strong organizational skills: Medical coders have to be able to keep track of a large volume of information and stay organized in order to ensure accuracy in their work.
  3. Excellent communication skills: Medical coders will need to communicate with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in order to accurately understand the coding requirements of diagnoses and procedures. You will need to be able to communicate effectively in order to resolve any issues or questions that may arise.
  4. Problem-solving skills: As a medical coder you have to be able identify and solve problems and produce results. As a medical coder encounter challenges when trying to determine the correct codes for diagnoses and procedures, and will need to use problem-solving skills to resolve these issues. This may involve researching codes or consulting with colleagues or supervisors to find a solution.
  5. Familiarity with medical terminology: A medical coder should have a really good understanding of medical terminology. On top of being able to decipher the handwriting of doctors, you will need to be able to understand and interpret medical records and other documentation, as well as be familiar with the meanings of medical terms and abbreviations.
  6. Familiarity with coding guidelines and regulations: Medical coders should be familiar with coding guidelines and regulations, such as those set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). You will need to be aware of these guidelines and regulations in order to ensure that you are assigning codes correctly and in compliance with the law.
  7. Computer skills: You have to be up to speed on how to use the technology associated with the job – there simply is no exception. Medical coders will need to be proficient in using computer software and tools, such as electronic medical record systems and coding software. You will need to be comfortable using a computer and be able to navigate different software programs in order to do your job effectively.

How can you become a medical coder?

In order to get started as a medical coder you have to have a baseline education that’s at least a high school diploma. If you’re currently in high school and thinking that this may be a path that you’d like to explore, you can prepare for a career in medical coding by taking classes in biology, anatomy, and medical terminology in high school.

After you’ve established your baseline education, there are several options for obtaining the training and education needed to become a medical coder.

One option is to enroll in a medical coding program at a community college or vocational school. These programs typically take one to two years to complete and may include coursework in anatomy, medical terminology, coding guidelines and regulations, and computer skills.

After completing a medical coding program or gaining relevant experience, the next step is to take the certification exam and become a certified professional coder and get you certification from a professional organization like the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) or the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). Certification can demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers and may lead to increased job opportunities and higher salaries.

Getting certification is not necessarily required in order to work from home as a medical coder (depending on the type of work you’re trying to get). However, certification is beneficial for a number of reasons:

  • Certification demonstrates and validates your knowledge and skills to potential employers, which may increase your chances of finding a job or advancing in your career.
  • Certification may be required for certain types of medical coding positions or for working in certain industries.
  • Certification can lead to higher salaries and better job opportunities. Many employers prefer to hire certified medical coders, as certification demonstrates a commitment to the field and a high level of expertise.
  • Certification can also help you stay current on coding guidelines and regulations, as many professional organizations offer continuing education opportunities and resources to help you stay up to date in your field.

While certification is not necessarily required in order to work from home as a medical coder, it can be a valuable asset that can help you advance in your career and increase your earning potential.

Are you a contractor or a remote employee when working as a medical coder?

How To Stay Motivated When Working From Home

When working as a medical coder, you have options. You may be either a contractor or a remote employee, depending on the specific arrangement you have with your employer. Here are some key differences between contractors and remote employees:

  1. Independent Contractors: As a contractor, you are generally considered to be self-employed and work on a project-by-project basis. You are responsible for paying your own taxes and providing your own equipment and supplies. Contractors typically have more flexibility in terms of their schedule and work arrangement, but may not receive the same benefits as employees, such as health insurance and paid time off.
  2. Remote employees: As a remote employee, you are typically considered to be a regular W-2 employee of the company, but work remotely from home or another location outside of the office. You are generally entitled to the same benefits as other employees, such as health insurance and paid time off, but may have more limited flexibility in terms of your schedule and work arrangement.

It’s important to understand the differences between being a contractor and a remote employee. This can make a big difference for your rights and responsibilities as a medical coder.

For example, if you are a contractor, while you may have more freedom and flexibility in terms of your work arrangement, it’s unlikely that you would receive the same benefits as a remote employee. If you’re a remote employee, you may have more stability and access to benefits, but may have less flexibility in terms of your schedule and work arrangement.

It’s also important to carefully review and understand the terms of your employment whether you are working as a contractor or a you’re a traditional W-2 remote employee, in order to know your rights and responsibilities as a medical coder. This may include understanding your pay rate, the terms of your employment, and any benefits or perks that may be provided.

In some cases, you may have the option to choose between working as a contractor or a remote employee.

Sometimes it’s better just for tax purposes to be a regular traditional employee because your employer is responsible for handling all of that through their business. Other times, you may want to handle all that yourself through an LLC company or something like that as a contractor.

You have to weigh the pros and cons of both options to see which is going to be best for you before making a decision to accept the position.

It’s important that you understand the differences between the two and to carefully review and understand the terms of your employment regardless of which path you choose.

What is the career outlook for medical billers and coders?

As far as job prospects go, medical coding jobs are generally good because there is a lot of need for these professions in the health care field.

Medical coders are expected to see job growth at a rate faster than the national average at with a projected rate of growth of 7% from 2020 through 2030. This growth is due to an increase in demand for health care services as the population grows and ages, as well as the increased adoption of electronic medical records, requiring skilled professionals to manage and maintain them.

There are a wide range of job opportunities available for medical coders, including positions in hospitals, clinics, healthcare providers’ facilities, physician’s offices, medical offices, and insurance companies. It’s possible for these professionals to work either full-time or part-time, and, as we’ve discussed extensively here, may have the option to work from home or remotely.

The career outlook for medical billers and coders is positive, with strong job growth and a wide range of job opportunities available. And since everyone is now working from home in this post-pandemic world, the opportunities to work as a medical coder from home is great.

How can you get training at home for medical coding work?

There are several options for obtaining training that you can either do as a self-paced home training program or as a traditional in-person class for medical coding work:

  1. Online courses: Many colleges, universities and trade schools offer online medical coding courses that you can take from the comfort of your own home. These courses may cover topics such as medical terminology, coding guidelines and regulations, and computer skills. Some schools offer certificate programs specifically designed for medical coders, while others offer individual courses that you can take to build your knowledge and skills in the field.
  2. Professional certification programs: The professional organizations mentioned before – AHIMA and AAPC offer certification programs that you can complete from home. These programs typically involve self-study materials and online exams, and can help you to demonstrate your knowledge and skills to potential employers.
  3. Continuing education courses: Many medical coding professionals choose to pursue continuing education courses in order to stay current on coding guidelines and regulations and to continue learning and growing in their careers. These courses may be offered online or in a hybrid format, allowing you to complete them from home.

After you’re done with your training, entry-level positions as a medical coder may be available in a variety of healthcare facilities, including hospitals, clinics, and physician offices in addition to insurance companies and other healthcare-related organizations.

The good news is that many of these positions may be available as remote or telecommuting positions, allowing you to work from home or from the coffee shop down the street.

As an entry-level medical coder, you may be responsible for reviewing and coding medical records, working with health information technicians to ensure accurate and timely billing, and performing other administrative tasks as needed. These positions can be a great way to get started in the field and gain valuable experience as a medical coder.

What does a home-based medical coder need to know about HIPAA?

Does a medical coder working from home need to know anything special about HIPAA requirements?

Without a doubt!

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is a federal law that sets standards for the protection of sensitive patient health information.

It’s vital that as a medical coder working from home that you be familiar with HIPAA requirements.

As a medical coder, you will be working with sensitive patient health information on a daily basis. It is important to ensure that this information is kept confidential and secure, in accordance with HIPAA requirements.

To meet HIPAA requirements when working from home as a medical coder, you will need to take certain precautions to protect patient information. This may include using secure passwords for your computer and other devices, keeping your computer and workspace secure and private, and using encrypted messaging and communication tools.

It is also important to be aware of HIPAA rules and regulations, such as those related to the use and disclosure of patient information. Violating HIPAA rules can result in penalties and fines, so it is important to take them seriously.

Overall, it is essential for a medical coder working from home to understand and follow HIPAA requirements in order to protect patient information and ensure compliance with the law.

Final thoughts

Medical coders are a vital part of any healthcare organization. Because they’re responsible for reviewing and assigning medical codes to medical procedures and services, the healthcare system simply could not operate without them because these codes are used by healthcare organizations to bill for services and, more importantly, to track patient care.

The good news is that medical coders work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, insurance companies and more.

Because so much of the world has now embraced remote work there has been an increase in the number of remote or telecommuting positions available for medical coders, allowing them to work from home or from somewhere else. The job outlook for medical coders is generally positive in the United States, with strong job growth expected in the coming years, so it’s a safe choice for a career path, and a very stable one for those who are looking for a remote position. Whether you’re just starting out in your career or looking to make a change, working as a medical coder from home can be a rewarding and flexible career path.

Next Steps

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Robert David Orr

Robert is a writer & creator, author of the WordPress Website Blueprint, award winning web developer, and leader in digital strategy. He's also a tenured work at home veteran who's been working from home for more than 10 years. Learn more. Got questions? Reach out and connect here - Contact Home Office Hacks here.

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