By Karen Smiley

Although you often hear people refer to billing and coding in the same breath — they’re really two different jobs. After the coder has assigned the correct codes, the biller transforms the codes into a payable claim. As you pursue a career as a biller and coder, one of the things you should think about is whether you want to do both jobs or concentrate on just one.

Wearing both hats

Both billing and coding job functions typically occur in the same office, whether on‐ or off‐site. The flowchart here encapsulates the key functions that make up a combined billing and coding job.

General functions associated with billing and coding.

General functions associated with billing and coding.

Some physician practices keep their coding and billing in-house, meaning it’s done by their office staff. In these situations, there’s no middle man, such as a practice management or billing company.

In some small practices, one person — the office coder/biller — does both jobs. This individual is the key to the business’s accounts receivable. Anyone considering accepting this type of position should have experience in both areas and should possess a working knowledge of payer contracts.

If you want to do double duty as a coder/biller, be prepared for twice the work and being twice as vital to the success of your facility. Wearing both the billing hat and the coding hat makes you the one multitalented sheriff in town!

Dedicating yourself to one job

The trend now is for physicians to use practice management or billing companies to facilitate their accounts receivables, and that makes billing companies a good place for a medical coder and biller to find work. These companies often employ several coders and billers, and it’s definitely an environment in which you would do one job exclusively, due to the sheer volume of clients you service.

Billing companies often use various types of coding and billing software, and they offer the best opportunity to get experience in different systems, in addition to allowing the novice coder to learn from the more seasoned coders.