RLC offers new medical coding major

INA, Ill. (April 15, 2013) - Those who want to work in the medical field, but prefer to avoid hands-on patient care, should consider Rend Lake College's new certificate program in Medical Coding. It's a smart choice for students interested in health information, health sciences, and laws and ethics.

Medical coding is the process of converting descriptions of medical diagnoses and procedures into universal medical code numbers. The medical coding professional has a unique blend of clinical knowledge and information management skills. Computer applications are used to manage health information and review medical records. Coding professionals must possess a thorough understanding of diagnostic and procedural phrases in order to translate the information into coded form. The Medical Coder must also be familiar with the laws and regulations relative to disclosure, confidentiality, maintenance, and retention of medical records.

AN OCCUPATIONAL CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

The Medical Coding program at RLC is a two-semester certificate designed to prepare students to work in the medical field as a Medical Coder. This certificate is intended to prepare students to sit for licensing as a Medical Coder. Medical Coding professionals play a key role in the medical billing process. Every time a patient is seen in a healthcare setting, the provider must document the services provided. The Coder abstracts the information from that documentation, assigns the appropriate codes and creates a claim to be paid. The curriculum emphasizes practical hands-on learning experiences in the laboratory setting. A background check and drug screening test are required.

The certificate is 26 hours and starts with classes in Anatomy & Physiology, Medical Terminology, Introduction to Computers, Medical Office Procedures, and Essentials of Human Disease. The following semesters dive right in to courses geared specifically to medical coding, such as Health Information Technology, Pharmacology Principles, Outpatient Billing and Reimbursement, Introduction to Medical Coding, Introduction to CPT Coding, Inpatient Billing and Reimbursement, Intermediate Medical and CPT Coding, Medical Law and Ethics, and a Coding Practicum.

EMPLOYMENT

Employment of medical records technicians is expected to increase by 21 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. The demand for health services is expected to increase as the population ages. An aging population will need more medical tests, treatments, and procedures. This will also mean more claims for reimbursement from private and public insurance. Additional records, coupled with widespread use of electronic health records by all types of healthcare providers, should lead to an increased need for technicians to organize and manage the associated information in all areas of the healthcare industry, the Bureau states.

NATURE OF THE WORK

Medical records and health information technicians organize and manage health information data by ensuring its quality, accuracy, accessibility, and security in both paper and electronic systems. They use various classification systems to code and categorize patient information for reimbursement purposes, for databases and registries, and to maintain patients’ medical and treatment histories.

FINANCIAL AID

RLC tries to assist individuals who demonstrate financial need. In most cases, financial aid is available. The college has been approved as a participating institution for grants made by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission and also is approved for federal student aid programs, including veterans benefits. Locally endowed scholarships are available to full-time students through the RLC Foundation (618-437-5321, Ext. 1214). RLC"s Office of Financial Aid can be reached at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1297/1298/1238.

For additional information, please contact RLC's Allied Health Division at 618- 437-5321, Ext. 1251. A toll-free number is available to in-district residents at 800-369-5321. Or send and e-mail to .

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