For individuals looking for a new career, the medical field is a paradise. The industry is slated for continual growth through 2022.
Patient care and the necessary support roles run the gamut from frontline care providers in neighborhood clinics to public health officials working on policy.
Billing, accounting, and health administrators make up the in between. It’s guaranteed that there’s something for everyone. If there isn’t, check back tomorrow — someone probably found a new role to be filled.
If you already have a degree or an established resume, the prospects are no more limited. As healthcare moves away from the paper records of the past, the industry is melding with emerging technology to change the face of patient care. Telemedicine and electronic health records are redefining the accessibility of information alongside the way medical facilities store it.
Previous experience in the technology or clerical field translate easily to the healthcare sector, even if your previous work had nothing to do with administering medicine.
Data analysts, tech support gurus, and engineers can all find a corner of the medical world to work in as technology becomes inextricably linked with patient care.
Opportunities are many and varied, spread across the country and in organizations of various sizes. All that is necessary is a desire to work in healthcare and a willingness to look for the perfect opportunity for your skills to be utilized.
If you need help kicking off your search, read on to get the rundown on three non-practitioner possibilities for the aspiring employee.
1. Billing and Coding
Medical billing and coding is not an emerging field within healthcare, nor will it disappear anytime soon. As long as people are receiving treatment, someone will need to classify it, and someone (or several someones) will need to pay for it. As a coder, this is where you come in.
When a patient comes into a medical facility and receives treatment, even if that treatment is simply talking to the doctor for 15 minutes, it gets recorded.
In the United States, encounters with medical providers are classified according to the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Edition, or ICD-10.
This system uses a series of letters and numbers to denote what happened or what the diagnosis was. These codes are used to justify treatment choices that practitioners make, which in turn translate to procedure codes with associated balances due.
As a biller or coder in a small clinic, you may perform the entire identification and billing process yourself, from reading the doctor’s notes all the way through receiving payment.
In larger facilities, various aspects of the process may be divided among different departments. These may include coding the encounter, preparing the claim information for various insurance carriers, receiving insurance payments, or appealing incorrectly denied charges.
Each aspect of the process is a little different and will require unique knowledge. However, general understanding of accounts receivable practices and the structure of the insurance industry do help. In order to become a biller or coder specifically, no degree is required, though there is a certification associated with the practice.
After working as a coder for two years, you are eligible to become a Certified Professional Coder. The process requires studying for and passing an exam designed to test your knowledge of the current ICD in effect. The American Academy of Professional Coders administers the exam.
To maintain the certification, continuing education credits will be required every few years, and you must maintain knowledge of the coding edition in effect.
2. Health Informatics
As more billing and coding moves online and the national adoption of electronic health records becomes standards, technical support and understanding is a necessary part of a successful health facility. Care centers are also discovering new ways to use the technology they have at their fingertips.
The duties of a health informatics specialist are many and varied. At the core of the job description is interfacing with healthcare administrators and practitioners to improve processes based on data collection. The positions are generally found in larger medical facilities as there’s a higher volume of data to track and draw information from.
Throughout your day working in informatics, you may find yourself working with IT to update software functions or improve technological support systems available to practitioners.
You’ll likely have meetings with administrators and process advisors to present potential improvements based on data you’ve pulled, or simply to update them on statistics. You may also work with groups of practitioners to teach them best practices for charting, documenting, and other uses for electronic health records.
Many health informatics professionals transition into the field from a patient-care position. However, this is not the only path. If you enjoy problem solving and utilizing data to improve processes, then a degree in health informatics can set you up to enter the field.
The degree option is becoming more widely offered among schools that have other medical-based programs, especially health administration.
3. Patient Portal and App Development
If you haven’t heard of fitness trackers, you’ve probably been living under a rock. Garmin, Fitbit, Nike Fuelband, and a few others have spent the last several years redefining the way we think about activity, as well as how we keep track of it.
Most people don’t think of fitness trackers and other trendy fitness accessories as being part of the healthcare sector, but electronic health records and telemedicine are utilizing remote patient data to upgrade the quality of patient care.
Telemedicine involves a practitioner providing remote medical consultation or care for a patient. Usually, the exchange takes place through a video portal, though for simpler requests, patients may utilize a private chat service.
Creating secure portals to ensure that patient information remains confidential is of utmost importance if remote medicine is to become a viable, popular option.
Health systems are also increasingly looking at app production. While health and wellness apps like MyFitnessPal and Fitocracy are capturing the time and attention of people looking to improve their well-being, there’s opportunity for using that information to inform medical decisions through the internet of things.
It may be easier for your doctor to understand what’s causing your gastrointestinal problems if they have access to your food diary.
Building applications that record patient data, interface with fitness trackers, and give that information to physicians has the opportunity to revolutionize personal care.
Hospitals and healthcare facilities are employing security and data experts, as well as software engineers, to design the best systems possible to serve their patients and make the exchange easier on practitioners.
Working in an app development sector or on data security may not feel like a healthcare job, but creating the tools for tomorrow’s medical norm is helping to shape and define the industry. You would essentially be upping the quality of patient care available to the average person.
Something for Everyone
This is by no means an exhaustive list of options. As mentioned previously, the industry is growing so fast that positions are being developed regularly. With the introduction of technology into the provision of healthcare, the possibilities for data informed decisions are endless.
If you’re interested in improving the quality of patient care in the country, but you can’t afford medical school or don’t think the practitioner route is for you, don’t stop there. The healthcare sector offers an opportunity to everyone, you just have to look for it.