The Difference Between Medical Assisting and Medical Billing
Several positions in the medical field involve work with patient health records, and there may be overlap among the different titles depending on the size of the facility. For example, in small offices, a medical assistant may have other roles, such as billing and bookkeeping tasks. A medical biller may also have coding and medical reception responsibilities. Generally, a medical assistant has clinical and administrative duties and a medical biller focuses on insurance and patient billing.
The Medical Assistant certification includes courses in administrative, clinical, and communication skills; ethical and legal standards of medical practice; and a supervised, 210-hour non-paid clinical practicum experience that includes competencies, logs and evaluations. Graduates of the program are eligible to take the National Certifying Examination given by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). The core curriculum teaches medical practice, medical law and ethics, medical communications, medical records, insurance, patient preparation, and lab procedures and tests. Curriculum is combined with hands-on training on equipment typically used in a medical setting. Students learn skills in communications, administration, finance, law, healthcare advocacy, patient education, and medical operations.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most billing and coding specialists have an associate's degree, and employers usually prefer to hire coding specialists who are certified. Medical billing programs are 12-24 months and often lead to an Associate of Applied Science in Medical Billing and Coding. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers certification. To sit for AHIMA's Registered Health Information Technician certification exam, the associate degree must be completed. Core curriculum includes courses in medical terminology, anatomy, medical office procedures, medical insurance, electronic health records, CPT/HCPS coding and ICD coding. An externship at a school-approved healthcare facility is often required.
by Linda Bright
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