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Is Medical Billing and Coding the Same as Health Information Technology?

Those wanting to train for administrative roles in healthcare may find themselves torn between either a Medical Billing and Coding program or a Healthcare Information Technology program. Both programs can prepare students to handle patient data, however they each have distinct approaches and goals.

To better understand the distinction between these programs, let’s first look at what makes each program’s paths unique.

What is Medical Billing and Coding?

Medical billing and coding are two related, but separate processes.

Medical coding happens when a Medical Coder transcribes patient records into a universally understood medical code. This standardized code is used during the billing process and makes it easier for insurance companies to understand:

  • The patient’s diagnosis
  • Which services were provided during the patient’s visit
  • The need for the treatment plan, services, or supplies being provided
  • Conditions that may impact treatments and services

Accurate medical codes allow healthcare agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to better understand national health trends. These medical codes can help those agencies to better understand how disease impacts various population groups and track medical treatments.

While Medical Coders transcribe information, medical billers review a patient’s medical charts and insurance policy to verify whether or not services are covered.

Once medical coding is complete, medical billers check codes for accuracy then include them in the claim or bill. This helps medical offices receive proper reimbursement for services rendered and the right parties are notified of how much is due.

For more information on this topic, check out our previous article What is Medical Billing and Coding.

What Does Healthcare Information Technology Do?

Healthcare information technology focuses on how medical information is organized, stored, shared, and accessed. This field uses various tools, systems, and processes to help improve the quality, efficiency, and accessibility of healthcare delivery. Health IT practitioners strive to safely store patient information and confirm it is accessed only by authorized parties. This can help improve coordination between healthcare providers to optimize patient care while maintaining a patient’s privacy.

Health IT practitioners should keep the latest regulations in mind to help existing systems remain compliant. Depending on their title, Health IT practitioners may analyze patient data to determine where patient care can be improved and check medical records for accuracy. Some health IT practitioners may also transcribe patient records into medical code and file claims with insurance companies.

While those in Health IT may have experience in medical billing and coding, they’re not all Medical Billers and Coders.

Is Medical Coding Part of Health Information Technology?

Health IT can be seen as an “umbrella” term that includes multiple roles and responsibilities. Medical billing and medical coding can be aspects of healthcare information technology. Medical codes provide vital data to public health agencies like the CDC, so they can understand the current state of healthcare across the nation.

This information can then be helpful to improve the quality of healthcare and make informed decisions about future policies.

How are They Different?

Medical Billers and Coders deal primarily with patient records, billing information, and insurance policies. They aim to create a universally understood record of services rendered, accurate invoices, and to process claims and bills in a timely manner. Medical Billers and Coders should follow the latest ethical and legal standards for reimbursement practices which will help make the billing process as accurate as possible.

Those in Health IT handle a broader range of health-related data than Medical Billers and Coders. In addition to maintaining EHRs, they also analyze data to find new ways patient care can be improved and costs can be lowered. While medical billing and coding can be considered specialties within healthcare, Health IT is more of an “umbrella” term that encompasses multiple roles.

As such, the educational requirements for these roles vary. Generally, those people who pursue careers in health IT hold at least an associate’s degree while those interested in medical billing and coding commonly hold either a certificate or diploma.

Which Program is the Right Fit?

When deciding which program to pursue, we encourage students to keep their career goals and interests in mind. This can help them analyze each program objectively and choose the one they believe will move them closer to their goal.

Our Healthcare Information Technology program covers a broad range of topics that includes the legal responsibilities of health information practitioners as well as medical billing and coding practices. Students are taught how to analyze and interpret healthcare statistics, examine the current state of healthcare delivery systems, and more.

This 18-month Healthcare Information Technology program can be completed via hybrid or ground modes at our Augusta, GA campus, or can be completed online through our Chattanooga, TN campus.

Our Medical Billing and Coding program covers a narrower range of topics. Students can gain experience using diagnostic and procedural coding manuals to transcribe mock patient files into a universal language. As students become familiar with guidelines for common insurance places, they can also practice processing insurance claims.

This 15-month Medical Billing and Coding program can be completed at the following campuses:

  • Chattanooga, TN
  • Wilmington, NC
  • Tulsa, OK

An online version of this program is also available through our Chattanooga, TN campus.

Prepare to Make a Difference in Healthcare

Choosing the right program can help students prepare for careers in allied health.

While Medical Billing and Coding and Healthcare Information Technology programs offer specialized training, they cater to different career goals and interests. Healthcare Information Technology is broader and can be an ideal choice for those interested in the safety of healthcare systems. Conversely, the Medical Billing and Coding program is more focused which can make it ideal for those interested in becoming a Medical Coding or Billing Specialist.

Regardless of which program students choose to pursue, they can look forward to training for an exciting career helping others.

Interested in learning more about our Medical Billing and Coding program or Healthcare Information Technology program? Submit this form to request more information or call us at (800) 705-9182.