Master Your Medical Billing Education - What Your Classes May be Lacking

Learn what your coding and medical billing education and classes may not teach you that your employer will want you to know...

Most face-to-face or online medical billing classes can't teach you everything you need to know about working in a particular environment. The same is true of medical billing and coding classes, as there are many things these courses may leave out.

Medical Billing Basics

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Some of these things are part of whether or not you know how to do your job. Others are personality traits and on-the-job scenarios that you can only learn by working in a medical office.

What You Will Learn

A doctor in an office. Your billing classes probably won't teach you how to deal with difficult doctors or patients

It's important to know exactly what will be included in your medical billing education.

Part of knowing what's left out is knowing what's included. Before you start any type of program, make sure it has everything you need and want to learn about medical billing and coding.

For example, you may want to become a medical coder in a doctor's office. If you choose a program that only teaches medical billing, this will be left out, and you will have paid hundreds or thousands of dollars for nothing.

Generally, what you learn depends on the type of school you go to.

Vocational schools, or those that train you for the work environment, will include more hands-on learning techniques. You may also need to complete an internship, volunteer hours, or observation requirements to complete these courses.

Other schools, like universities that offer two- or four-year programs, will teach mostly textbook materials and theoretical practices and scenarios. What works best for you will depend on the level of medical billing education you desire, as well as your final qualification.

In most medical billing education programs, what you learn includes:

  • Coding procedures
  • Billing procedures
  • CPT, HCPCS Level II and ICD-9 coding
  • HIPAA rules and regulations
  • Medical billing guidelines

Your medical billing classes may also teach you about general office procedures and other administrative skills.

What you won't learn

There are many things that an employer will want you to know when you begin a job, especially in billing or coding. Most likely, you'll have learned many of these things while in your medical coding classes or through past experience.

If you're new to the workforce, you may be surprised at the amount of things your employer wants you to know on your first day of the job.

If you have no past office experience, it's very important to know how to deal with patients and their families, angry customers, and strangers on the phone. Most of what you need to know depends on your personality and your etiquette.


Impress your boss on the first day on the job by being polite to everyone who walks through the door.

Put a smile on your face and act like you enjoy being there. When someone walks up to your desk, greet them with "good morning" or "good afternoon," and treat them as if they are a priority.

Being nice to patients and customers is a trait that some front office personnel don't have. You've surely been to an office where the person at the front desk snarled at you or ignored you when you walked up to them. Don't be this person!

Rude and lazy office personnel make patients turn away and find a different doctor's office. Impress your boss by maintaining a positive attitude.

On the phone

Telephone etiquette is a useful skill for any biller

The same goes for telephone etiquette.

Be nice to people on the phone, as you will most likely have to meet these people face to face someday. Even if you are having a bad day, don't let it come across to the person on the other end of the line.

Answer the phone as soon as possible, and don't keep people on hold for more than five minutes.

If you can't deal with the person on the other end of the line within five minutes, take a message and tell them that you will call them back.

And don't transfer someone to a voicemail without telling them. There is nothing more annoying that being transferred to a voicemail when you are trying to get a real person!

Don't forget about telephone etiquette when you are the one calling, especially with insurance telephone operators. Sometimes insurance operators can unintentionally be rude. If this is the case, don't hesitate to ask for another operator or manager. You don't deserve to be treated badly either.

The medical office environment

Probably the most important thing you won't learn in your medical billing education is exactly what it is like to work in the medical office environment. Medical offices are hectic, fast-paced, and stressful!

You need to be able to learn on your feet and multitask well. In order to get the job done, you may have to do a number of things at once, including watching the front desk, taking phone calls, checking in patients, and entering charges. All at the same time!

Being able to multitask in this type of environment takes time, but it's possible. The better you can handle many things at once, the better medical office employee you will be.

Another piece of advice about the office environment is to keep it friendly. Don't gossip about your coworkers, don't spread rumors, and don't get involved in other people's problems. This only leads to more stress and possibly termination!

You will also have to learn what it is like to work face to face with doctors. This can be intimidating, especially if you are asking them about a patient's visit, or trying to decode their sloppy handwriting. But don't worry, doctors are people just like you, and you are both just trying to do your jobs.

The rest of the job

There are many more things that your employer will want you to know on your first day of the job. But it is impossible to know everything, especially if you are just starting out in the medical field.

There is no way you could know every type of medical billing software or insurance problem. This can only come with years of experience. The best you can do is follow the above tips, remember your medical billing education, stay focused, and stay positive! Remember, this is what you trained for!

Find out what you will learn in your medical billing classes...

...or you medical coding classes.

For more help with starting out in medical billing, see medical billing employment tips: raising your chances of getting the job.

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