How to Become a Certified Outpatient Coder (COC) Professional?

Being a certified outpatient coder can be a rewarding career. But, it takes a lot to become one. COCs play a very important role in helping the healthcare industry get medical coding and billing accurately for outpatient services. If you are thinking about having a career in the respective domain then you have landed on the right page. We are here to help you with the steps that can make it easy for you to proceed ahead with certifications and courses. 

Before embarking on the journey to become a COC professional, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the role and responsibilities associated with this position. COCs are responsible for reviewing medical records and assigning appropriate codes to outpatient procedures, diagnoses, and treatments. These codes are used for billing purposes and to ensure accurate reimbursement from insurance companies. 

Steps to Become a Certified Outpatient Coder

A Certified Outpatient Coder must have a strong knowledge of medical terminology, anatomy, and coding guidelines. Below are the primary steps that you must consider taking to become a professional outpatient coder;

  • Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent
  • Pursue a Post-Secondary Education
  • Gain Practical Experience
  • Pursue Certification
  • Prepare for the COC Exam
  • Take the COC Exam
  • Continuing Education and Professional Development

1. Obtain a High School Diploma or Equivalent

The first step towards becoming a COC professional is to obtain a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification. A solid foundation in mathematics, science, and English is necessary for success in this field. High school courses that focus on anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology can provide a head start in understanding the complexities of medical coding.

2. Pursue a Post-Secondary Education

While a post-secondary degree is not mandatory to become a COC professional, it can greatly enhance your chances of securing a job in this competitive field. Many colleges and universities offer programs specifically designed for medical coding and billing. These programs provide comprehensive training in medical terminology, anatomy, healthcare regulations, and coding systems such as the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) and International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

3. Gain Practical Experience

Obtaining practical experience is crucial to becoming a successful COC professional. Consider opportunities such as internships or entry-level positions in healthcare facilities, medical billing companies, or insurance companies. Practical experience will allow you to apply your knowledge of medical coding in real-world scenarios, thereby improving your skills and increasing your chances of employment.

4. Pursue Certification

Certification is not mandatory to work as a medical coder, but it is highly recommended as it demonstrates your expertise and commitment to the field. Benefits of COC certification include enhanced career prospects, increased earning potential, and validation of your proficiency in outpatient coding. The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offers the Certified Outpatient Coder (COC) certification, which is recognized and respected in the industry. To be eligible for the COC certification, you must have at least two years of professional coding experience. 

You may also like: Benefits of Earning a CPC Certification

5. Prepare for the COC Exam

Preparing for the COC exam is crucial to ensure success. The AAPC provides study materials, including textbooks, online courses, and practice exams, to help candidates prepare for the certification exam. It is essential to dedicate sufficient time to study and understand the coding guidelines, procedures, and regulations specific to outpatient services.

6. Take the COC Exam

Once you feel adequately prepared, you can schedule your COC exam with the AAPC. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions that assess your knowledge of outpatient coding. It is essential to manage your time effectively during the exam and carefully read each question before selecting the most appropriate answer. Passing the COC exam with a minimum score of 70% will earn you the coveted COC certification.

7. Continuing Education and Professional Development

After obtaining your COC certification, it is crucial to stay updated with the latest coding guidelines, regulations, and industry trends. The AAPC offers various continuing education opportunities, including webinars, workshops, and conferences, to help COC professionals enhance their skills and knowledge. Engaging in continuous professional development will ensure that you remain competitive and up-to-date in this ever-evolving field.

Final Thoughts

Becoming a certified outpatient coder professional requires dedication, education, and practical experience. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can embark on a rewarding career in medical coding and billing. Remember to stay committed to continuous learning and professional development to excel in this dynamic field. 

You might also be interested: How to Become a Certified Professional Coder 

Locations Where Edoxi Offers Medical Coding Course

Here is the list of other major locations where Edoxi offers Medical Coding Course

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