Medical Assistant Vs Medical Billing and Coding

This article is written to highlight the differences between medical assisting and medical billing & coding. If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in comparing the two medical fields.

We’ve provided all the details you need to make informed decisions. By the end, you should clearly understand what each entails.

Medical Billing and Coding vs. Medical Assistant

It’s common to find medical professions whose roles are similar as such cause confusion as people mistake one for the other.

One of those is medical assisting and medical billing & coding. Now it’s important to state that each healthcare career differs.

Who’s a Medical Assistant?

To understand the similarities and differences between these two healthcare fields, you’ll need to understand what each is about.

A medical assistant is an allied health professional who assists other professionals within the industry.

Such professionals include nurses and physicians, amongst others.

Here, clinical and administrative tasks are delegated to ensure the smooth functioning of the offices medical assistants work in.

There are several roles or responsibilities handled by medical assistants. These will be discussed shortly.

Who’s a Medical Billing & Coding Specialist?

The modern healthcare industry has been significantly impacted by medical billing and coding as it has helped maintain an efficient reimbursement cycle where healthcare providers get paid for services offered.

Medical billing and coding is a collaborative effort that involves using processed information (from a coder) and making a bill for the insurance company.

A medical billing and coding specialist can handle any demands in smaller healthcare facilities.

However, larger medical establishments will require medical billers and coders to collaborate to promote the efficient processing of payments and reimbursements and the generation of claims for insurance companies.

Medical Assistant Billing and Coding Comparison

To understand the differences between medical assistants, medical billers, and coders, we’ll need to identify or determine the points of comparison.

This help to clearly define or point out similarities and differences between the two healthcare fields.

Speaking of the points of comparison, we’ll need to consider several areas like the job roles and responsibilities, training, patient interactions, and advancement potentials.

Other areas discussed below include work settings, professional colleagues, and work-life balance.

i. Job Roles & Responsibilities

Looking at the job responsibilities of medical assistants and, medical billers & coders gives a clear idea of the distinctions between these professions.

Medical assistants’ responsibilities include readying treatment rooms for clinical examinations and assisting professionals with medical procedures.

Medical assistants obtain and record patient medical histories. This is in addition to taking vitals and test results while maintaining strict confidentiality.

A medical assistant coordinates everyday administrative activities like patient check-in, check-out, scheduling, and record maintenance.

Medical assistants prepare and administer medications as directed by a doctor, support patients, and their families, and maintain compliance with all healthcare regulations.

On the other hand, medical billers and coders handle all kinds of responsibilities, like reviewing medical data in a timely fashion and keeping data organized at all times.

What more? They help input medical codes into medical classification software to ensure insurance companies reimburse patients.

Billers and coders track patient outcomes for quality assessment purposes while entering healthcare records in the correct format for medical databases and registries.

These professionals may also liaise between insurance companies and the healthcare facility.

There are several other responsibilities for each of these healthcare professionals. With that said, let’s consider the other points.

ii. Training

Medical assistants are trained to take on both administrative and clinical roles. This training briefly touches on, or includes some aspects of billing, coding, and insurance.

Unlike medical assisting, medical billing and coding primarily dwell on administrative roles, including responsibilities discussed earlier.

The training also includes some clinical knowledge to give medical billers and coders the needed understanding to code insurance forms.

Unlike medical assistants who don’t need a college education, medical billers’ and coders’ educational requirements are relatively high.

Medical billers and coders can go as far as obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Those with advanced degrees get to hold managerial positions.

iii. Patient Interactions

Patient interaction is another crucial factor when comparing medical assisting to billing and coding.

Medical assistants get to work directly with patients. This means the interaction between the professional (medical assistant) and the patient is relatively high.

It’s a patient-focused role where these professionals get to work with other professionals in administering treatment. Medical billing and coding, on the other hand, have fewer patient interactions.

Here, most of your task is performed on a computer.

You interact continually or engage with insurers, administrators, and providers. While your interactions are highly beneficial to patients and the healthcare system, there are fewer interactions with patients.

This is an ideal healthcare job for introverts.

iv. Advancement Potential

Due to the importance of advancement to any professional, it’s common to find people asking questions in this line. Without a doubt, there are several ways of advancing in medical assisting.

One of those options includes going for specialty certifications.

The same applies to medical billing and coding. Professionals in this field can advance their careers in administration. By going for further study, you broaden your chances more.

v. Work Settings

Medical assistants can work in various settings, such as ambulatory services, state & local government agencies, nursing homes, and private & public educational services.

Others include outpatient medical facilities, employment services, and diagnostic & medical laboratories.

Work settings for medical billers and coders include hospitals & doctor’s offices, healthcare consulting services, insurance agencies, educational institutions, government agencies, law firms, and working from home.

vi. Professional Colleagues

Every professional role within the healthcare industry is collaborative.

That is why medical assistants work with doctors and nurses. Medical billers and coders also work with professionals like doctors and nurses while interacting with insurance agencies.

Having seen the similarities and differences between medical assistants, medical billers, and coders, it’s up to you to make your pick. The points discussed above highlight key aspects that distinguish these medical fields.