The Business Information Technology department at Navarro College offers a certificate in medical office coding and transcription.

Many students have earned this certificate and have gone on to work in the medical field in these roles. Navarro College has an excellent staff to prepare students for this popular field.

Medical transcriptionists work for physicians/dentists, hospitals, lawyers, insurance companies and medical associations. They transcribe medical reports either from a cassette tape or from what is known as a digital system and some transcriptionists transcribe reports provided over a secured Internet connection.

Reports on patients’ history and their physicals (dictated when a patient is formally admitted to the hospital), operative reports, discharge summaries (dictated when a patient is formally discharged from the hospital), progress reports (follow-up visits in the physician’s office) and X-ray/pathology reports are all usually dictated by a physician and become a part of a patient’s medical record. Some transcriptionists are editors and are solely responsible for editing transcribed reports, as well as editing dictation that may come from a voice recognition system.

Medical coders work for these same professionals as well, but may also work for a medical lab/radiology or government contractors, such as worker’s compensation, Medicare and Medicaid. They are responsible for assigning codes to the reports in a patient’s chart to facilitate billing an insurance company for services provided. A code exists for all types of services and a code exists for all types of conditions that a patient may have. These are called procedure codes and diagnosis codes. Procedure codes communicate what service was provided and diagnosis codes communicate why the service was provided.

Medical billing is similar. Once a report is transcribed and approved to be added to a patient’s chart, a coder then assigns the appropriate codes to the report, preparing to bill the patient’s insurance company. Once the insurance company receives the bill, they then reimburse the physician/hospital for services provided. Medical coders are responsible for staying up-to-date with federal, state and insurance-specific rules and regulations.

Most transcriptionists and coders are detail-oriented, perfectionists and have the mindset of an investigator. Both transcription and coding require a good understanding of medical terminology, anatomy and physiology/pathophysiology and some computer skills as well. Most courses required to complete the certificate are computer-based, which allows students to do work at their own pace while still meeting specific deadlines. The two medical coding courses required for this certificate are lecture courses and are offered in Corsicana and Waxahachie. Basic medical coding is also offered in Corsicana on Saturdays with the lecture from 9-10:50 a.m. followed by a lab. The coding class in Waxahachie is offered from 6:30-8:50 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and includes the lab.

To date, 12 students have completed the coding courses and have successfully passed the American Academy of Professional Coders, a national medical coding certification exam.

“I was one of the first students of the new medical coding and advanced medical coding classes at Navarro College,” said Lydia King, one of the first graduates from the new program. “I received my certificate at the end of the spring 2006 semester. In November of 2006, I took my national exam and passed it, which gave me the CPC-A (apprentice) credential.”

Another graduate of this program who also passed the AAPC certification exam is Audra Cook.

“The medical coding certificate program at Navarro College is a great program for anyone interested in the medical field,” Cook said. “I chose coding because I knew with my physical limitations that I would need something behind the scenes in a medical office. So a nurse friend of mine suggested coding. It has turned out to be the perfect career choice for me.

“I also think Navarro is a great place to learn coding,” Cook said. “The classes are smaller in size, which allows for more hands-on teaching. All of the instructors are proficient in their areas and are always there to help when you need it.”

For more information on the medical office coding and transcription certificate program or the medical coding classes, call 903-875-7571 or e-mail kathy.pillans@navarrocollege.edu or linda.blatchley@navarrocollege.edu.

Prerequisites for the coding classes are medical terminology and pathophysiology or instructor approval for those with previous experience in the medical field.