Illustration of a doctor in an exam room working on a computer

Why this matters:

Like many workplace tasks, medical coding has transitioned from paper forms to electronic software. Medical coding software enables coders to more quickly look up and enter relevant procedure and diagnosis codes. There are a wide range of varied and complex systems on the market, so it’s good to know what your candidate has used in the past.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of leading medical coding software platforms
  • General comfort with different types of workplace software
  • Willingness to participate in ongoing training to make the most of coding technology

Why this matters:

Medical coders are essentially data storytellers. They extract precise details regarding healthcare diagnoses, procedures, medical services, and equipment to create a story about how a patient interacted with a provider. This question will help you see how skillfully your candidate can craft a claim that will be paid by insurance companies.

What to listen for:

  • Ability to translate disparate data into clear summaries with appropriate codes
  • Experience collaborating with claims staff, attorneys, and physicians on claims
  • Comfort working with a range of complex inputs from a variety of medical sources

Why this matters:

Medical coders spend the majority of their time working with large amounts of data spanning a range of patients, providers, procedures, and payers. It’s essential that they have a system for making sure data is well-organized, entered accurately, and done so on deadline. The best medical coders are detail-oriented professionals with a methodical approach to work.

What to listen for:

  • Excellent organizational, time management, and planning skills
  • Ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks at once
  • Meticulous attention to details and deadlines

 

Why this matters:

Healthcare is changing rapidly, and new medical codes and best practices are emerging on a continual basis. Medical coders need to be proactive about keeping up with these shifts. This can involve enrolling in continuing education courses, ensuring their coding certifications are up to date, or subscribing to professional journals or newsletters.

What to listen for:

  • An appreciation for the rapidly evolving nature of medical coding
  • Recent training courses taken to update their skills and knowledge
  • Trade resources, websites, journals, or other publications they follow regularly

Why this matters:

A medical coder is responsible for interpreting patient files and informing insurers of what treatments or procedures need to be covered. Sometimes insurers deny claims, and it’s a coder’s responsibility to validate their choices. This involves gathering evidence, including diagnostic tests, prescribed medication, and information from consultations.

What to listen for:

  • Experience with defending their coding choices to insurers
  • Knowledge of what evidence can help support their argument
  • Confidence and self-assuredness in the face of challenges

Why this matters:

Mistakes in medical billing are a common occurrence. Whether the problem is an inaccurate code, cost, or simply insufficient information, these errors can create frustration, inefficiency, and a poor patient experience. Strong medical coders are organized, detail-oriented, and don’t hesitate to double-check patient files or consult with physicians to ensure accurate billing.

What to listen for:

  • Strong organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Strategies for recognizing errors and course-correcting
  • Willingness to consult appropriate team members to resolve confusion

Why this matters:

Since medical bills can be a source of confusion for patients, medical coders often need to explain why certain codes were selected and how they relate to billing. A good candidate will be empathetic, resilient, and possess strong customer service skills such as active listening, clear communication, and a focus on reaching resolution.

What to listen for:

  • Experience with helping confused patients understand their medical bills
  • Ability to translate complex codes into simple language for lay people
  • Strong customer services skills, such as patience, resilience, and empathy

Why this matters:

A medical coder frequently liaises with numerous stakeholders, from doctors and nurses to pharmacists and insurers. Among such varying goals, priorities, and personalities, periodic conflict is inevitable. A strong candidate leverages proactive communication, problem-solving, and emotional resilience to navigate conflict and get the job done.

What to listen for:

  • Clear communication and relationship-building skills
  • Resilience and a determination to find solutions to problems
  • Specific examples of how the candidate resolved conflict in the past

Why this matters:

Medical coders have a direct impact on the patient experience. Accurate and timely coding ensures that patients can continue receiving the care they need. Strong candidates are empathetic to individual patient needs — such as someone awaiting prescription approval coverage — and can prioritize accordingly, while still meeting larger organizational deadlines.

What to listen for:

  • A strong sense of how medical coding impacts real patient lives
  • Ability to recognize and prioritize urgent billing needs for individual patients
  • Proactive attitude toward identifying ways to reduce wait times for care
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