Sunday, June 02, 2013

My Brilliant Career, Part III: Medical Coding

Medical Records and Health Information Technicians
It's not exactly exciting; it sounds like the medical equivalent of tax preparation. It's mostly sitting in front of a computer all day. But the stats at the site above (Occupational Outlook Handbook, by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) gives it a job increase outlook of 21%, up till 2020. And another reason to consider training for it now is this:

ICD-10 Medical Coding
[...] ICD-10 is an upgraded diagnostic and procedural medical coding system that, by law, must be implemented throughout the healthcare industry by October 1, 2014. This new coding system is radically different from the version currently in use, so it’s important to start preparing for and implementing the massive changes to the existing coding system.

This online program offers you comprehensive, robust training in diagnostic and procedural coding, using the ICD-10-CM (diagnostic) and ICD-10-PCS (procedural) coding manuals. This training includes detailed instructions for using the coding manuals, understanding the coding guidelines, and accurately applying the ICD-10 coding steps. There are more than 40 quizzes and exams for diagnoses and procedures by body system to test your knowledge and understanding.

In addition, you will find information on the impact of the coding changes on medical coders, healthcare staff, physicians, software systems, documentation, and information technology. [...]
Most of the current coders are trained on ICD-9. So people who train for ICD-10 now, will be poised to "catch the wave".

But... it could still be too boring, sitting at a computer all day. In comparison, I think Pharmacy Technician actually looks better.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook had a lot of interesting information on Health Care jobs. Take this one for instance:

Home Health and Personal Care Aides
What Home Health and Personal Care Aides Do
Home health and personal care aides help people who are disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired. They also help older adults who may need assistance. They help with activities such as bathing and dressing, and they provide services such as light housekeeping. In some states, home health aides may be able to give a client medication or check the client’s vital signs under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner.


Home health and personal care aides typically do the following:
  • Help clients in their daily personal tasks, such as bathing or dressing
  • Do light housekeeping, such as laundry, washing dishes, and vacuuming in a client’s home
  • Organize a client’s schedule and plan appointments
  • Arrange transportation to doctors’ offices or for other kinds of outings
  • Shop for groceries and prepare meals
  • Provide companionship
Aides often keep track of when a client’s prescriptions need to be filled or when the client has his or her next doctor’s appointment. Aides may prepare leisure activities, including exercise, to keep their clients active and healthy. They may go for walks with their clients or play games with them. In some states, home health aides may be able to provide some medical services. Aides may be expected to complete unpleasant tasks such as emptying a client’s bedpan or changing soiled bed linens.

Some aides are hired directly by the client or the client's family. In these situations, the client or the client's family supervises the aide and gives the aide tasks to do.

Home health aides, unlike personal care aides, typically work for certified home health or hospice agencies that receive government funding and therefore must comply with regulations. They work under the direct supervision of a medical professional, usually a nurse. These aides keep records of services performed and of the client's condition and progress. They report changes in the client's condition to the supervisor or case manager. Aides also work with therapists and other medical staff.

Home health aides may provide some basic health-related services, such as checking clients' pulse, temperature, and respiration rate. They also may help with simple prescribed exercises and with giving medications. Occasionally, they change simple dressings, give massages, care for skin, or help with braces and artificial limbs. With special training, experienced home health aides also may help with medical equipment such as ventilators, which help clients breathe.

Personal care aides—also called homemakers, caregivers, companions, and personal attendants—provide clients with companionship and help with daily tasks in a client’s home. They are often hired in addition to other medical health workers, such as hospice workers, who may visit a client’s home. Personal care aides do not provide any type of medical service.

Direct support professionals work with people who have developmental or intellectual disabilities. They may help create a behavior plan, provide employment support, and teach self-care skills, such as doing laundry or cooking meals. They may also provide other personal assistance services.


Job Outlook
Employment of home health aides is expected to grow by 69 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment of personal care aides is expected to grow by 70 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As the baby-boom population ages and the elderly population grows, the demand for home health and personal care aides to provide assistance and companionship will continue to increase. Older clients often have health problems and need some help with daily activities.

Elderly and disabled clients increasingly rely on home care as a less expensive alternative to nursing homes or hospitals. Clients who need help with everyday tasks and household chores, rather than medical care, can reduce their medical expenses by returning to their homes.

Another reason for home care is that most clients prefer to be cared for in their homes, where they are most comfortable. Studies have found that home treatment is often more effective than care in a nursing home or hospital.

Job Prospects
Job prospects for both home health aides and personal care aides are excellent. These occupations are large and expected to grow very quickly, thus adding many jobs. In addition, the low pay and high emotional demands cause many workers to leave these occupations, and they will have to be replaced.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook has a lot of data on many different  Healthcare Occupations, so you can compare them. I've compared some that I was interested in:

Occupation:        Outlook (thru  2020):          Median Pay:

CNA                    20%                                     $24,010.
LVN                     22%                                    $40,380.
RN                       26%                                    $64,690.
Phrm Tchn           32%                                    $28,400.
Med. Coding        21%                                    $32,350.
Hme Hlth Aide      70%                                    $20,560.

Many of the higher paying jobs require two or more years of college. Pharmacy Technician still looks the best to me, considering the education requirements, job outlook, and pay rate. I didn't include the education requirements in my list here, but you can find them on the Handbook site, and much more too. It's a great resource.

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