The advent of computers has a lot of people worried, and much of this worrying is justified by the advancement of machine learning and automation. If you look around, you will see many different instances where technology has managed to replace workers with seemingly repetitive jobs. One of the most recent examples, of course, being fast food workers.
With technology moving forward as quickly as it is today, many individuals who learn medical procedure codes are concerned they will eventually be out of a job thanks to apps and systems replacing the human element in their jobs. So, here is the real question: is it possible for your job to be taken by a computer if you get the medical coding training that you want? The short answer is no, but we are going to go into more detail below. The long answer might be a little more complicated than you thought.
A System with Multiple Issues
Computer Aided Coding is now more of a possibility than it has been in the past for a few different reasons. First, we transitioned to electronic health records, or HER’s, which allow the computer to easily move through the text, find the keywords/phrases and turn them into codes. Yes, it does work, and yes, it is efficient, but there are certain issues. The entire operation should work in theory, but you always have the possibility of human error no matter how stringent the input requirements are. A great example would be entering ‘heart failure’ into the documentation. This would work, but what if the patient suffered from acute pancreatitis?
The system would simply scan through the chart, and it might conclude that the reason for the visit was ‘acute heart failure’ based upon what was written in the document. A potential fix for this would be to have the person inputting the data omit the names of common conditions if they are not related to the main cause, but this would create more work and there is no guarantee that the coder would be able to catch all possible instances. Ultimately, the coding would be inaccurate, and it would cause mass confusion upon being submitted to the insurance company.
Accuracy is Essential
To put it all in a nutshell, Computer Aided Coding (CAC), is certainly a possibility, but the medical billing and coding industry still needs HER’s that can document everything accurately. The CAC itself is likely perfect, but the reporting faces limitations. Take a medical record that has a lot of copy and pastes as one of the better examples. The system will not be able to differentiate between legitimate information and information that has been duplicated. Ultimately, if something has not been documented properly then it cannot be coded, regardless of how good the computer is at its job.
In the end, the technology exists but it simply is not going to give us the results that the medical industry expects and needs. There is no argument that it can come close, and maybe with additional engineering, research, and development, we will begin to see more successful implementations in the future. Currently, though, the best medical coders are still humans.
Thus, medical coding and billing jobs are safe from being automated and having their human elements eliminated. Should you choose to attend medical billing and coding school, you will work your way into an amazing career and it will not be too long before you are living the life that you have always wanted. Whether this is going to be your permanent career, or you are only using it as a stepping stone, you are in good hands and your future is secure.
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