The Affordable Care Act is creating greater demand for medical office personnel who can handle its new requirements for billing, coding and digitizing medical records.
Not only are clinics, hospitals and private physicians’ offices restructuring how they do medical billing and record keeping to meet standards for uniformity, but through the ACA, also known as Obamacare, millions more people are obtaining health insurance, leading to more visits to doctors.
“Providers will see more patients, there’s more revenue over time and their practices will become more efficient,” said Daniel Kivatinos, chief operating officer and co-founder of DrChrono.com, a cloud-based electronic health records and electronic medical billing company that helps doctors bill their own claims electronically.
Frustration with new billing procedures and the abundance of work may also prompt doctors and clinics to outsource their billing, creating even more jobs with companies whose sole mission is to tackle health providers’ medical billing.
“Last year, $500 million of medical billing went through our software,” Kivatinos said.
Along with billing, medical coding requirements are being revamped extensively. Under the ACA, the system for coding medical procedures, called the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision — or ICD-10 — is requiring an increase in the number of codes from 13,000 to nearly 70,000 in 2015. Not only have coders been trained and brought up to speed on the new diagnostic codes that are required to submit claims, but also the increased workloads for coders have created additional job growth.
Medical records explosion
Another provision of the ACA requires that hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices make patients’ medical records available electronically. As a result, more than half of U.S. doctors and 80 percent of hospitals have digitized their records, according to recent reports.
The federal government has also created an incentive program to encourage medical practices to implement electronic medical records technology. The program, in which doctors and hospitals were paid between $44,000 and $64,000 to digitize their records, was said to cut health care costs by way of more accurate diagnoses, better communication and more selective medical testing.
“Facebook has your photo, but your medical record doesn’t yet,” Kivatinos said. “Someone’s face on a chart reduces medical errors dramatically.”
Plus, electronic medical records will be able to include drawings, images and video, and will allow doctors to upload information from the Internet and from FDA-approved devices like a patient’s blood pressure cuff or glucose meter.
Kivatinos said the focus will be on how to incentivize doctors to move to digital systems by creating great experiences for them with these new technologies.
These changes, and more on the horizon, will continue to create opportunities for people interested in working with medical records and billing. Additional training and increased numbers of positions are expected, at least in the short term, while medical-records personnel digitize all types of health records and patient information.
“It’s a healthcare renaissance,” Kivatinos said.
Jennifer Nelson is a Florida-based writer who has written for WebMD, MSNBC, CNN and others.