The rise of the long term care facility, casually referred to as nursing homes, is a phenomenon that will truly mature in the 21st century. Cities are increasingly becoming the dominant population centers in the United States, as more people choose better, time-consuming jobs away from their home towns and leave the care of their elderly parents to hired professionals. This phenomenon will undoubtedly become more prevalent as the baby-boomer generation requires an increasing amount of full-time medical care and services.
Just as there will likely be a rise in long term care facilities within the coming decades, so too will accompany an increase in demand for medical billing and coding professionals. Those working in this field are an integral part of a long term care facility, ensuring healthcare procedures are accurately documented and recompensed.
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Medical Billing and Coding in Long Term Care Facilities – What to Expect
In many ways working as a medical billing and coding professional at a long term care facility can be similar to working as an inpatient coder in a hospital setting. Each day clients in long term care will usually generate several instances of medical procedures. To properly code and bill for these, professionals must be adept at reviewing a patient’s chart and doctor notes.
Larger long term care facilities are often divided into different segments which can include:
- Assisted living
- General care unit
- Memory loss unit
- Intensive care unit
Depending on the size of the assisted living facility, billing and coding professionals may work with patient records from all types of units or specialize in a particular area. They will be expected to be familiar with the many categories of codes that pertain to their specific unit, as well as the codes that designate long-term healthcare procedures which are repeated multiple times.
In units where more intensive care is required, billing and coding professionals will find that a single patient can generate many instances of medical treatment in a single day. Professionals who deal with these billing and coding instances must pay particularly close attention to the details of a patient’s chart, ensuring every instance of service is properly documented. This is important not only for the purposes of revenue but also for legal reasons.
Preparing for Long Term Care Facility Billing and Coding Careers
Billing and coding professionals who work at long term care facilities should be familiar with the different types of coding used by the major insurance companies, especially the Medicare program. Having an education or certification in the billing and coding field is helpful, as is prior experience. Because of the volume of healthcare services provided by long term care facilities, the billing and coding professionals they hire usually either have strong credentials or prior experience.
Learning about the insurance codes and services associated with geriatric care is one of the best things prospective long term care billing and coding professionals can do. This will prepare those venturing into this expanding industry for long term career success and competence.