In today’s continuously advancing healthcare industry, medical coders are crucial in ensuring accurate billing, compliance, and efficient patient care.
But what if you desire the flexibility to explore new places while continuing the medical coding career you love? Can you take your skills on the road and experience the world as a medical coder?
The answer is YES!
From the foundational requirements and certifications to the nuances of securing contracts, this article will provide a comprehensive overview for those looking to expand their professional experience as a medical coder.
Table of Contents
- What Does a Travel Medical Coder Do?
- Can You Travel Being a Medical Coder?
- Common Medical Coding Specialities
- How To Become a Travel Medical Coder
- Requirements To Become a Contract Medical Coder
- How To Find Traveling Medical Coding Jobs
- Advantages of Traveling as a Medical Coder
- Common Work Settings for Traveling Coders
- Do Medical Coders Work Remotely or Report On-Site?
- Let Trusted Nurse Staffing Help You Find Your Next Position as a Medical Coder
What Does a Travel Medical Coder Do?
Medical coders are responsible for using applicable classification systems to process, store, and maintain patient records for purposes such as:
- Improving data for epidemiological research
- Tracking of public health statistics
- Measuring and tracking health care utilization and patient care
- Organization of payment systems
- Processing claims
Like travel nurses, travel coders are typically employed by staffing agencies. They are responsible for fulfilling duties on a short-term basis in areas experiencing staff shortages or high patient volume. The standardized nature of medical coding programs allows travel medical coders to adapt to each new facility quickly.
Demand for Medical Coders
The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 8 percent growth for medical records specialists between 2022 and 2032, faster than the average job growth across all occupations.
Increased demand is expected across the healthcare industry due to the aging population. A career in travel medical billing and coding will likely be a sound decision for those seeking flexible administrative roles in the healthcare industry.
Can You Travel Being a Medical Coder?
Yes! Staffing agencies typically employ travel medical coders to fill roles in areas experiencing staff shortages or high patient volume. They may remain in a position from a few days to a few months.
Medical coders who work with staffing agencies enjoy higher compensation, better benefits, and greater job flexibility than their permanent counterparts.
Common Medical Coding Specialities
Much like nursing, medical coders often choose to specialize. Coders with in-depth knowledge of the specific terminology and procedures within a given area can produce more accurate coding, which is crucial for proper data collection and legal compliance.
Some of the most common specialties include:
- Inpatient/outpatient coding
- Emergency medicine coding
- Surgical coding
- Oncology coding
- Behavioral health coding
- And more
How To Become a Travel Medical Coder
Gateways to entry may vary depending on the position, but most entry-level medical coding roles only require employees to have a high school diploma and prior experience working in the healthcare industry.
While most entry-level positions do not require certification, the AACP reports that certified medical coders make around 39% more on average than those not certified. Those pursuing higher-paying positions typically complete postsecondary educational programs in medical coding, such as those offered by The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
After obtaining certification, travel medical coders can choose to explore freelance work or partner with a staffing agency that can help them identify contract opportunities.
Requirements To Become a Contract Medical Coder
Entry-level medical coding positions typically require a high school diploma and 2-3 years of experience working in the healthcare industry.
For more specialized roles, one may need to acquire a postsecondary certification, associate’s, or bachelor’s degree.
Some of the most common certifications held by medical coders include:
- Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)
- Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
- Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)
- Certified Coding Associate (CCA)
Most medical coding certificates require a thorough understanding of the most commonly used medical coding systems, such as:
- (CPT) – Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) is a coding system designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It is a widely used program to code diagnostic, surgical, and medical procedures.
- (HCPCS II) – The Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System Level II (HCPCS II) is primarily used to identify healthcare equipment and supplies such as ambulances, drugs, or surgical tools.
- ICD-11 – Known as the “global standard for diagnostic health information,” the International Classification of Diseases, Eleventh Revision (ICD-11), developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), is perhaps the most widely used medical coding system in the healthcare industry. The ICD enables healthcare data to be standardized and shared worldwide.
- ICD-10-PCS and ICD-10-CM – The United States uses a variation of the WHO’s ICD program consisting of two coding sets known as the ICD-10-PCS (Procedure Coding System) and the ICD-10-CM (Clinical Modification).
The ICD-10-PCS system is a set of procedural codes primarily used for inpatient procedures within hospital settings. The ICD-10-CM is used across all healthcare settings in the US. The system consists of diagnosis codes used to represent a patient’s signs and symptoms, diagnosis, medical history, injuries, and other factors related to patient health and treatment.
How To Find Traveling Medical Coding Jobs
Rather than constantly searching for the next great contract, traveling medical coders often work for staffing agencies that connect them directly with available opportunities.
Look to Trusted Nurse Staffing if you’re looking to:
- Earn more money
- Sharpen your clinical skills
- Work with a wide variety of patient populations
- Improve your work-life balance with greater flexibility
Have the freedom to work what, when, and how you want. Our team provides workers with the resources and 24/7 support they need to kick-start their careers in the healthcare industry with confidence.
Connect with a recruiter, or use Pronto to start searching for available opportunities today.
Advantages of Traveling as a Medical Coder
The Chance To Explore New Places
Similar to travel nursing, travel medical coders have the unique opportunity to explore new cities with each new contract they take on. They can choose when and where their next job will take them, bringing ample opportunity to spend a few days, weeks, or months exploring the city of their dreams.
Medical coding, in particular, offers greater flexibility than other traveling healthcare roles. They may be fully remote or hybrid work models that allow for enhanced travel abilities.
Potential for Increased Earnings
According to ZipRecruiter, the average pay for a medical coder in the United States is $21.65 per hour as of October 2023. However, compensation is highly dependent on location and experience level.
Traveling medical coders are able to choose when and where they want to work. They may take fully remote assignments in an area such as Berkeley, CA to benefit from a higher pay rate without being bogged down by higher costs of living.
There are several areas that travel coders can explore if they are looking to benefit from higher income.
Here are throughout the US with the highest earnings for medical coders:
5 Top Earning US States:
- Nevada – $25.23 per hour
- Oregon – $25.02 per hour
- Massachusetts – $24.82 per hour
- Hawaii – $24.56 per hour
- Alaska – $23.87 per hour
5 Top Earning US Cities:
- Berkeley, CA – $26.85 per hour
- Renton, WA – $26.57 per hour
- Palo Alto, CA – $26.49 per hour
- Atherton, CA – $26.48 per hour
- Santa Monica, CA – $26.39 per hour
Exposure To Different Medical Environments
Traveling medical coders have the unique opportunity to work in various environments, each with its own software systems, programs, and treatment services.
They may be contracted to work for:
- Outpatient clinics
- Physician’s offices
- Emergency care centers; or
- Other healthcare facilities
This allows medical coders to enhance their professional experience greatly. They can network, practice coding with new systems, and ultimately bolster their resumes to qualify for more specialized medical coding roles in the future.
Common Work Settings for Traveling Coders
- Hospitals and physicians’ offices – Hospitals and physicians’ offices are the largest employers of medical coders. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 27% of medical records specialists are employed by state, local, and private facilities.
A medical coder in these settings carries out diagnosis and procedure coding for patient visits to process billing and insurance claims. Coders may work within primary care, specialty care, or urgent care facilities, and their workload may vary depending on patient volume.
- Nursing homes and assisted living facilities – Most nursing homes and assisted living facilities offer on-site medical assistance to residents. Medical coders in these facilities require in-depth knowledge of the coding nuances associated with Medicare, long-term care insurance, lifecare agreements, or other billing complications not commonly seen in hospitals or clinics.
- Insurance companies – Insurance companies often employ coders to aid in fraud detection, audits, or appeals. Their primary role is to review incoming claims submitted by healthcare providers to verify the codes align with the treatment provided.
- Government agencies – Coders employed by state or federal agencies such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) play a pivotal role in the oversight, operation, and regulation of public health programs. They may be responsible for maintaining the integrity of public health databases, enforcing standards, and contributing to policy development.
- Law firms – Law firms often hire medical coders for personal injury cases, malpractice claims, or other healthcare-related litigation. They may be tasked with analyzing records, verifying claims, identifying irregularities, or negotiating client claim payouts.
Do Medical Coders Work Remotely or Report On-Site?
Thanks to new, HIPAA-compliant electronic health record (EHR) technology, more and more medical coders can fulfill their responsibilities remotely. A 2022 medical coding survey found that 51% of medical coders work remotely.
However, expectations may vary by facility and employee experience level. Medical coders with less experience working in the healthcare industry may be required to work partially or entirely in person.
Let Trusted Nurse Staffing Help You Find Your Next Position as a Medical Coder
If you’re ready to start your career as a traveling medical coder but aren’t sure where to start, Trusted Nurse Staffing is here to help.
Our team works closely with healthcare workers to guide them through contracting – from constructing the perfect resume to scheduling downtime between contracts.
We also offer:
- Sign-on bonuses
- Stipends for travel, housing, and meals
- Flexible contracts
- Full or part-time work
- Referral and completion bonuses
- Healthcare benefits
- 24/7 support from your recruiter and our team
Contact Trusted Nurse Staffing and use the Pronto job search to find available contracts today.