With the rise of technology, medical coders are scared that their positions may become obsolete within the next decade due to artificial intelligence. Less than two decades ago, patient financial records, charts, and claims filing were tracked on paper! However, even though technology advances, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are constant topics in healthcare, it does not change the need for medical coders.
Many medical coders and medical coder hopefuls ask if the fast advancement of technology in healthcare will translate to a reduction in coding jobs, as well as, is there a possibility that computers in the office replace the medical coding staff completely.
Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence that uses probabilities to learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. The algorithm that is used by machine learning can only learn from outcome data.Therefore, it has to have a human to define what the outcome should be. Particularly, this is where it can be tricky to use artificial intelligence in a medical setting, more specifically coding, because every patient visit has a different outcome. Because of this limitation, medical coders and coder hopefuls should not be worried about their career.
Another limitation from artificial intelligence is that artificial intelligence cannot query the provider about documentation to ensure accurate coding.
Experienced coders know that sometimes it takes a lot of back and forth with the provider to ensure you are coding the encounter properly when documentation is not clear or additional details are needed.
Even with the advancement of coding technology like computer-assisted coding (CAC), the number of medical coders is expected to grow 15% between 2014 to 2024 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even when using CAC, errors will occur since every patient visit has such variability and a different outcome. As a coder, this is where having auditing knowledge would be helpful to correct these errors after the encounter is coded.