Is it important for medical billers to know medical terminology and anatomy? The answer is “yes.” Many medical billing programs will have medical terminology/anatomy courses available to add-on to the program. Some program don't include this training because some who sign up for medical billing courses may already work in the medical field and do not need these courses.
With the advent of ICD-10-CM it is most important for even experienced medical coders and billers to brush up on their terminology. ICD-10 includes many more codes and is much more specific in nature than ICD-9. Since medical coders and billers work with medical records, it's important to understand medical terms and basic anatomy. For example if a medical report refers to metacarpals, it's good to know that we are talking about the wrist area. Additionally, medical reports will become more terminology heavy due to physicans needing to be more specific in their diagnoses.
Medical Terminology and Anatomy for Medical Billers
An experienced medical biller can opt to take a medical billing course such as offered through the AAPC or CodingCertification.org. The benefit to taking a course such as one of these is the continuing education units you will receive if you are already certified :). One can also self-study. I prefer books and texts that also include the answer key in the back so that I can check my own work. Some books even contain online resources like games, puzzles, and flash cards. I like the book Medical Terminology A Short Course by Chabner. It's a rather condensed text but also includes online learning activities that made learning fun. This text also teaches anatomy and terminology together, which is very helpful. Learning doesn't have to be boring or drudgery. Using a “fun” resource like an anatomy coloring book can enhance learning and retention and be fun. Online flash card sites or even buying some pre-made anatomy and terminology study guides or flash cards is also a good way to learn in a relaxed and fun way.
It is important for both new and experienced medical coders and billers to update their terminology and anatomy knowledge. ICD-10 is dangerously close! Don't panic, but do take action to enhance your skillset now. The career field of medical billing is one in which you will always be learning new rules, laws, regulations, compliance issues, etc. Be proactive about learning new things in an effort to be the best professional that you can be.
Dawn Moreno, PhD, CBCS, CMAA, MTC. Lives in the beautiful Southwest United States and has been an instructor for medical coding/billing for the past 7 years. Interested in quality medical billing training?
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