by Angela Gerbert, CCS
Instructor, Libman Education
Are you currently a physician coder wondering if the COC (formerly the CPC-H) is right for you? Before I go any further, I want to say that there is no right or wrong answer to that question. I am a firm believer in loving what you do. If you are totally satisfied with your work as a physician coder, then good for you! If however, you have a desire to apply your skills in a different setting, then hospital outpatient coding may be just the adventure you are looking for.
Hospital outpatient coding is not as far a leap from physician coding as one might think. On the contrary, physician coders most likely have developed a deep skill set in a specific area of the CPT code set because of the specialty of the physician or group they code for. The specific knowledge in that specialty, plus the general knowledge of how to read a record and convert provider documentation into codes, translates to the hospital setting.
The myth is that hospital coding is so vast and varied that it is difficult to master it all. Good news: coders are not supposed to master it all. We are supposed to reference guidelines and use our resources on a daily basis. The variety of the hospital outpatient coding department is certainly challenging, but it does not have to be intimidating.
Usually, the work load in the outpatient setting is divided by service instead of physician. For example, radiology and laboratory may be one division; emergency room may be another. Cross training, which ensures there are many hands to make light work, also serves to keep coders challenged and on their toes. Over time, an outpatient coder learns the outpatient guidelines and becomes familiar with the CPT and HCPCS codes that pertain to each department or division.
In the ever changing world of health care where private physician practices are giving way to urgent care centers and group practices are affiliating with hospitals, now is an opportune time for you to jump aboard, earn your COC, and join the ranks of outpatient coders.
P.S. Here at Libman Education, we are prepared to help you succeed in your goal of achieving a coding credential and will put the tools in your hand to make that happen. We even offer personalized instructor feedback and access. Your success is our goal!