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Thread Topic: Training
Topic Originator: steve verno
Post Date April 9, 2011 @ 12:36 PM

steve verno
April 9, 2011 @ 12:36 PM Reply  |  Email Friend   |  |Print  |  Top

Medical Coding and Medical Billing, two different professions but are symbiotic, are specialized professions.  Both professions demand training and that training is specialized in coding and/or billing.  You cannot do medical coding or medical billing without training.  Just because you have an AA, AS, BA, BS, MA MS, or PhD, doesnt mean you qualify to do medical coding or billing.   Being a receptionist calling insurance companies for approval to render medical care doesnt qualify you to do medical billing.  Using a sample test doesnt replace training and doesnt make you a medical coder or medical biller.  

Training must be provided by someone with the training, certification and experience in coding or billing and by someone with the ability to teach coding or billing and to answer a student's questions regarding the subject being taught.  

There are many places that offer training.  Some are via correspondance, some are colleges and universities and some are on line.  While it may be easy to take your training at the Colletti Academy of TV repair and Medical Billing because they offer the classes at $60,000 through EEEZEEE payments.  They may not be better than a $600 class through a recognized national medical coding or medical billing association.  The $60,000 block of instruction may be taught by someone with a BS degree but they never did any medical billing and they couldnt tell the difference between a CMS 1500 and UB 04 form.  Just remember that when you complete your training, you still owe the $60,000 and if you cant find work, how can you pay back your debt?  Has the training been approved by a State educational organization?  For example, if the training is in New York, has the New York Board of Education approved the training, the syllabus, course outlines and testing?  I once had a candidate who said she just completed her training with her specialty being that of anatomy.  I asked her to point to her tympanic membrane.  She pointed to her heart.  I gave her the ICD-9-CM manual and then asked her to tell me the code for unspecified chest pain.  She responded with 250.00.  In the end, she wasn't hired  

Before you take any training, double and triple check the teaching institution.  They may be a local college or university but, did they get on the coding and billing training bandwagon because there is gold in them thar hills.   Check out the instructor.  If they have no training, certification, or experience in teaching coding or billing, how will they provide you with answers to your questions?  Again, in coding or billing, a degree doesnt mean doodly squat.  If your personal belief is that you have your masters degree, so you dont need any more education, then coding and billing is not your profession.  

Once you finish your training, will you become certified or is that an extra task with an extra fee involved?  Does the teaching institution offer employment or do they offer an internship upon graduation?  

Just be careful, because Jane Doe may have worked for Dr. Detroit for a year as a receptionist and used that experience to set up her own training program.  She uses a book recommended from a billing forum as the master reference.  She uses Microsoft Word or Powerpoint to create a nice fancy diploma and she buys certificates with fancy gold bordering.  That piece of paper looks good but there is nothing backing it up.  You use it to get a job and uh-oh, along comes a problem with Aetna or Blue Cross and now you're in trouble.  You need to do something quick to keep the doctor from finding out, so you go to one of the many forums to get an answer from the experts.  That helps you with one problem, but more and more crop up.  Now your doctor knows something is wrong.  Soon you find yourself out of work and the next person coming along cant get hired because of your mistakes.  This next person now needs documentation of proper training from a location recognized by the doctor, the same is with certification and on top of it, the doctor demands you have 5 years of experience.  You dont have it, you dont get the job and now you become frustrated.  I dont have the experience and if i cant work, how can I get experience.   If the office manager sees a trend with problems associated with people who attended the Colletti Academy, anyone who attended the Colletti Academy will find it very difficult to get an interview for a job.    

I once had a student who obtained a job after she completed her training.  When presented with something that the office manager knew was something she should have known, the student said, "he didnt teach me that in my class."  Oops, wrong thing to say.  I was well known by the office manager and the doctor and it was known that what the student said wasnt taught was, indeed taught.  The accusation went all the way to the State Board of Education.  The office manager was adamant, under no circumstances would any graduate from this school be hired by her or her doctor.    I presented my approved syllabus, course outlines, class presentations, notes, handouts, and tests.  What the document showed was that the subject was indeed taught.  It also showed that the student was absent on those days of training.  The fault wasnt with the teaching institution or instructor.

Before you spend good money, do your homework.  Check the teaching institution.  Find some former students who took the training and get their opinion.  Double check what they offer.  Understand that as a newly graduated student with a degree puts you in the same category as someone with training and no degree and no experience. The person who comes along with no degree and training from a recognized billing association, who has 20 initials after their name with 10 years of experience may be the one who gets the coveted golden ticket.  My brother has his masters degree but can only find work at a national food service chain asking people if they want fries with their chicken maharaja mac?    Check out the instructor,  Make darn sure that they have the background training in coding or billing and that they also have experience teaching coding or billing.  If you ask them, "Mrs. Johnson was in an automobile accident and she has insurance through Flo and Medicare Part B, to whom do you send the claim to first?"  Your instructor can give you the correct answer.  If they offer an intern or extern upon graduation, check with the providers to see if this is still valid.  Check to see if the correspondance course actually teaches you and can they answer your questions during your training or are they a front for selling you software that doesnt work.  
Understand that your fellow student is going to compete against you for the job both of you are looking to fill.  You need to work to be better that them.  Check your instructor to see what their requirements are for a letter of recommendation.  In my classes, every student asked me that on the first day of training.  MY answer was simple.  To get a letter of recommendation was earned, not provided when asked.  They had to have 100% in attendance, 100% in homework assignment turn in, and a minimum score of 80% or higher going into the final test.    

As you begin your journey into this profession, you want the tools to be successful. That involves the proper training, certification and experience.  The proper training comes from an institution that provides the best training, has the best and qualified instructor, and prepares you to do your job.  Being expensive doesnt mean it is the best.

April 4, 2013 @ 8:50 PM Reply  |  Email Friend   |  |Print  |  Top

I could not agree more with your comments.  Many are the same that I relate to people who inquire about a career in medical billing & coding.  I currently teach in a state technical college, which has specific requirements about the background and qualifications of their instructors.  I have previously taught in a private for-profit college.  I can assure that they can have very "creative" methods to mislead potential students about their programs.  They often make verbal promises about the industry opportunities that are nowhere near reality.  I asked one of my students if they were given those statements in writing.  Of course, answer was no, but the student was already obligated for the student loan by that time.

steve verno
April 5, 2013 @ 7:55 AM Reply  |  Email Friend   |  |Print  |  Top


Recently I attended a college meeting that invited local business executives to inform them of what their college offers students and their potential graduates.  

We were broken down by businesses and was in the billing-coding group.  I sat and listened to the program director, feed me the biggest line of B.S.  (PD - Program director, Me - me)

PD "All of our instructors are required to have masters degrees!"

Me:  My question:  Are any of them coders or billers?

PD:  No, but, they have masters degrees.  

Me:  So, your masters degrees can answer questions that your coding and billing students present to them!

PD:  Yes, they have masters degrees and a masters degree can answer any question posed from their students.

Me:  I seriously doubt that.

He then went on about the cirriculum.  I asked, what about these topics???

PD:  OH! they'll get that with their hand ons experience in the doctors office.  

Me:  Did you know that none of your students will be hired!

PD:  Why?

Me:  Doctors want someone with experience.  Your students wont have that, ergo, they wont be hired and they wont get the hands on experience you say they will get and doctors dont have time to teach a new employee.

PD:  Mr. Verno, what do you know about coding and billing?

Me:  Doctor, Im as dumb as the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz.

A friend who is a manager of a large medical practice told the PD that I was right. She said she refuses to hire any of this colleges graduates.

When she was asked why, she said, they dont know what to do!

The PD told her that it is her job to teach them the hands on skills they need to do the job.  T

Another business owner said, I dont have time to do that.  He and all the rest of the business owners got up and left, leaving me, my friend and the program director looking at each other.  

That is when the meeting ended.

As someone once said, you cant fix stupid!  The closest this person gets to getting out to see whats happening in the real world is when he goes to the local McDonalds for lunch.  I thought people with PhDs were supposed to be smart.

April 5, 2013 @ 6:26 PM Reply  |  Email Friend   |  |Print  |  Top

I know very few medical entities that currently offer on the job training. When I started in the field 37 years ago, those opportunities were plentiful; not any longer.  

There are certain "key words" in the marketing of some for-profit schools that are a tip off that the program for medical billing & coding is sub-standard.  Unfortunately, potential students are not savvy to the underlying translation, and enroll thinking there is unlimited opportunity.  Although the curriculum at the school where I taught was really below industry expectations, I raised the bar considerably for my students.  Example:  All coding class tests took a minimum of 3 hours if not 4.  Obviously, those looking for an easy ride were not happy, but those who did persevere were learning to handle work in the real world.  I have encountered several of my former students who told me that they believed their ability to demonstrate better than basic skills and use some critical thinking made the difference in being hired for the job.  They are working and happy with the job.  Unfortunately, many of the schools have flooded the industry with sub-standard quality & employers have become reluctant to accept any candidate that comes from certain schools.

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