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Guruvayurappan PV, vice president & head, Human Resources, Omega Healthcare Management Services
India is developing in various fields and the healthcare industry is one such area where we see enormous growth opportunities with an ever increasing number of private hospitals. As per a report by Indian Brand Equity Foundation, the size of the healthcare industry is predicted to reach US$ 280 billion by the year 2020.
Though traditional professions such as medicine and pharmacy are common in India, many graduates in this field find it hard to get into a career other than these. In the non-metro cities, setting up their own clinics would be difficult due to the high developmental costs involved. As a result, these professionals look for other alternate careers in the same field. This growth in healthcare and the proportional increase in medical coding becomes a career choice for those professionals looking for an alternate option within the medical field.
Access to cloud data and advancement in healthcare technology has given a chance for medical digitisation to take a leap. It has become a necessity to digitise every record and document like Mediclaim, Health Insurance etc. to provide ease of access. Taking a cue from demands in the industry, many private hospitals in India have started converting their physical records to digital for medical billing purposes. Medical billing, data management and medical coding are certainly a few of the alternate career options a medical professional can look at.
Medical data management
Medical data management comes in as a helping hand for hospitals to maintain records. It involves the following aspects of data handling, while keeping in mind the requirements of healthcare providers:
Uniform documentation between medical facilities: If patients’ records are digitised, it becomes easier for different physicians to analyse and track their health trends, maintaining uniformity, irrespective of country or health agencies.
To track the effectiveness of treatment: It is important for large medical facilities and hospitals to track the efficiency of their treatments which is being given to the patients.
Accessibility: In the earlier days, there were multiple barriers towards accessibility. With emerging technologies such as cloud-based platforms, there is greater convenience of tracking health status and staying updated with health details, while also accessing medical records of the past. This can help in choosing the right step towards providing better treatment.
Security: It also provides security for the records and information about the patient as it is stored in cloud.
While there are many options for a medical professional to choose an alternative career, there lie many challenges too. There is a lack of awareness about the trending courses, availability and opportunities that they can benefit from medical management.
Also, colleges have to prepare their students toward becoming corporate ready professionals.
Training and skilling required for medical coding
According to industry data, the offshore healthcare services industry is growing at 25-35% per year with medical coding being the fastest growing outsourced business process in India. However, the training and skilling required in medical coding is more specialised.
Analytical Abilities: The specialists in medical billing need to read and analyse the medical records and details of patients, use proper codes for billing and forward the claims to the insurance companies.
Social Skills: While there is no requirement of socialising directly with the patients, there is a need to interact with co-workers, doctors and nurses for clarifications regarding details of bills, patients or any visits made by patients.
Technical Skills: One needs to have basic knowledge of the coding software, in addition to Microsoft Office and database management, as large healthcare facilities such as hospitals use electronic means for billing and coding.
Accuracy: Attention and accuracy in coding health insurance claims and understanding the medical coding system is very important. One needs to have a deep understanding of descriptions and details of every code for respective diseases, patient appointments and surgeries etc. In case there is an error then the coder needs to be capable and have an eye for detail to fix it.
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