Medical Biller and Coder vs. Medical Transcriptionist


The health care industry generates mounds of paperwork, and it takes armies of trained professionals keep hospitals, doctor's offices and insurance companies on the same page.

Medical transcriptionists work with doctors and other health care providers, turning audio recordings about patient care into written notes that go into a patient's file.

Medical coders work with those files, making sure they're up-to-date and they comply with federal regulations and insurance requirements. Medical billers (a subset of medical coders) submit claims to insurance companies, Medicare and others.

Here's some more detail about how these careers, which play a vital role in keeping the health care system running smoothly:

Profession Medical Biller and Coder Medical Transcriptionist
Job Duties Assign alphanumeric codes to illnesses, injuries and medical procedures, submit claims for reimbursement, advise providers on best documentation practices. 

Listen to audio recordings made by doctors and other health care professionals and convert them into written reports, edit drafts prepared by speech recognition software for accuracy and style consistency, pinpoint inconsistencies or errors and follow up with the medical professional.

Education Most medical coders and billers start out with an associate's degree, though certificates and diplomas that take less time to complete are also an option. 

Employers usually prefer formally trained transcriptionists with a certificate, diploma, or associate's degree.

Licensing / certification Certification is optional but highly recommended, since many employers prefer it.  Same as for medical biller and coder. 
Pay Median annual pay: $34,160  Median annual pay: $34,020 
Job growth 22 percent increase through 2022  8 percent increase through 2022 
Next step?  Getting certified as an advanced or specialty coder is one way to advance your career. Getting certified as a Registered Medical Transcriptionist (RMT) or Certified Medical Transcriptionist (CMT) can help you stand out when applying for jobs.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Medical Records and Health Information Technicians, Medical Transcriptionists; American Academy of Professional Coders.

The salary information and job growth data listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

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