Medical Coding vs. Medical Transcription: Break Down 5 Differences

Medical Coding vs. Medical Transcription
Medical Coding vs. Medical Transcription

Healthcare careers have similar job titles for different roles affecting your career options like medical coding and medical transcription. If you don’t understand these fields, you will have a vague idea about their roles. What are the differences between medical coding and medical transcription? Which is the better choice for your career? Break down in this post to learn more about their job descriptions, roles, and responsibilities.

Job Description

1. Medical Coder

Medical coding relates to the process of billing insurance companies by using industry-standard codes. They play an important role for insurance providers to read and understand a physician’s notes in the medical field.

Medical Coder
Medical Coder

A day of a medical coder is to translate daily language and medical jargon from a patient’s appointment into the corresponding codes. If you want to become a medical coder, you will learn another language including sets of letters and numbers to create billing codes reports. Then send billing information to insurance companies.

2. Medical Transcriptionist

The medical transcriptionist is a behind-the-scenes career in the healthcare industry. Their duties are to take dictation from physicians or medical professionals to make written reports including patient charts, medical histories. They also take notes about diagnoses and treatment plans for the patients in an appointment.

Medical coders and transcriptionists need to be familiar with medical languages. However, transcription hasn’t any duty related to billing. They create reports on Electronic Health Records (EHR) and share it with patients and other healthcare workers.

Medical Transcriptionist
Medical Transcriptionist

Necessary Skills

Due to different tasks, medical coders and transcriptionists have different audiences. If you are looking for one of these careers, you need to be organized, detail-oriented and accurate because a mistake in these fields can lead to larger problems like incorrect billing or inaccurate medical histories.

Active-listening skills are important skills of a medical transcriptionist because you will write instructions or notes such as capturing every word a physician says for patients. Additionally, a good medical transcriptionist also needs to have good judgment skills to create reports.

When it comes to medical coders, this job requires more technical skills related to coding systems like ICD-10 and CPT. To pursue this path, you must keep close to advanced changes in coding systems and billing procedures because of the growth in healthcare technology.

Work Environment

Medical coders work in several healthcare settings including hospitals, clinics, educational institutions, legal and insurance firms. While 37% of medical transcriptionists work for non-healthcare settings such as administrative services agencies to offer transcription and admin services to healthcare providers. The rest of the transcriptionists can work for hospitals and physicians’ offices.

Salary Range and Job Outlook

If you are wondering which is a better option for you, this part will give a deeper look at their income and job outlook

According to the BLS, medical coders earned a median annual salary of $42,630 in 2019. In addition to sustainable salaries, medical coders also have a positive job outlook thanks to the aging population. 8% is the projected growth in the period of 2019 to 2029 for medical coding jobs.

Salary Range and Job Outlook
Salary Range and Job Outlook

On the other hand, medical transcriptionists earned a median annual salary of $33,380 in 2019. Medical transcriptionists tend to earn less than medical coders, however, your income will depend on your skills and your work settings. The BLS projected transcriptionist jobs to decline by 2% through 2029 due to advances in automated dictation software. Don’t worry, it’s still a projected number, so you can enhance your skills to improve your salary range.

Requirement Education

These healthcare careers require specialized knowledge of medical terminology, so what are the requirements in training? Medical coders don’t have any standard technical requirements, but you should have a postsecondary certificate and an Associate’s degree. By enrolling in education programs, you will prepare foundational knowledge related to medical terms and coding systems.

Requirement Education
Requirement Education

While medical transcriptionists can launch in their career path after completing a one-year certificate program or obtaining an Associate’s Degree in the medical transcription field. Thanks to these programs, you will get medical knowledge and legal concerns encompassing medical transcription.

Additionally, pursuing certification from a professional organization is an optional choice but it helps to advance your job career. 

  • For medical coders: The AAPC or the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)
  • For medical transcriptionists: the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI).

Start Your Healthcare Career?

As we mentioned above, you can see the difference between medical coding vs medical transcription to choose the right option for you! If you decide medical coding is your choice, start to learn more about the step-by-step guide to becoming one today.