Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) coding is a standard, universal code that is applied to medical procedures and services for the purpose of patient records. CPT was developed by the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1966, and the codes are uniform codes that translate the same for doctors, hospitals, patients, insurance companies, and other third parties. Knowledge of CPT coding is often required of medical office personnel.
CPT coding is like a language for those who work in the medical field. Each code is a string of numbers, usually five, that indicate a service or procedure. The AMA approves all codes and updates them annually. Coding is an intricate and very specific procedure; for example, there are as many as 13 different CPT codes for the influenza vaccine, each specific to the type of vaccine and its administration.
Individuals with knowledge of CPT coding may be eligible to work in a doctor’s office or other medical setting. Coders can earn coding credentials to become certified in this field. Many schools offer training in health information management that includes training in medical coding. As the demands for individuals highly trained in health information management grow, other additional areas are becoming essential for obtaining a job in the medical information management field.
Knowledge of CPT coding can be put to use in medical offices — both in records and billing, hospital records departments, and health insurance companies. Being able to differentiate between specific coding requirements for different insurance providers is one area in which CPT coders are able to help both patients and doctors. Without the proper coding, many insurance claims are denied.
The US Department of Labor anticipates that careers in medical information technology, including CPT coding, are expected to grow in the future. This makes the field one of the fastest growing job markets. The salary for an coder or reimbursement specialist varies with experience, certification and training, and location.