Artificial intelligence (AI) is often described as a disruptive force in whichever industry it touches, and medical coding is no different in this respect.

The question is whether this technology actually lives up to the hype and if it does, whether its impact is problematic or progressive.

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The duties of a medical coder & the appeal of AI

Part of becoming a certified medical coder is learning the ins and outs of the healthcare industry so that practitioners and insurers are on the same page when it comes to diagnoses, treatment plans, and their associated costs.

At a very basic level, medical coding is similar to many other administrative roles within a wide variety of industries and sectors. Professionals spend a lot of time on data entry duties, cross-checking information, and updating medical records using standardized codes, ensuring that every organization and individual is kept in the loop.

In principle, this seems like the type of work that AI is ideally positioned to automate, at least partly. And indeed, AI-assisted medical coding is already in the process of being developed, with applications in clinical trials enabling human coders to work more efficiently and avoid the fatiguing, repetitive aspects of their job.

This reveals that, as in many other contexts, AI is not ousting flesh and blood employees from medical coding altogether but rather enhancing their innate talents, improving productivity, moreover making the job more enjoyable.

It is not just about speed but also about accuracy. Errors can occur in the world of medical coding, and this could leave insurers, patients, or healthcare providers out of pocket as a result.

With the power of AI, such instances will be significantly reduced, leading to the smoother running of even the largest healthcare operations, as well as improved satisfaction for everyone.

The long term prospects for medical coding professionals

So far, it sounds like the disruption of AI in medical coding is all taking the profession in the right direction. Still, there are critics who see this as a slippery slope towards the total takeover of automated software.

However, it is worth pointing out that even in years to come, when AI has advanced even further, humans will still need to fulfill roles that are aided and enhanced by this technology.

This is because regardless of the accelerated, accurate abilities of AI in medical coding, the data-delving that coders do is just one aspect of the job. Many of their other responsibilities are focused on interacting with colleagues and counterparts in other organizations.

As such, there are still skills and talents that AI cannot replicate, but which the majority of human professionals have innately. Interpersonal abilities and managerial talents are two obvious examples, and there are many more.

In the long term, prospects for medical coding professionals are solid. Job growth is expected for at least the next decade, and the healthcare industry is fundamentally resilient because people across the country and around the world will always need care and treatment.

The final word on AI disruption

AI is an emotive topic to discuss because it seems to either be talked about as a threat to humanity’s future or the solution to all of our problems.

As with most things in life, the reality will likely lie somewhere between the two. Jobs from medical coding to manufacturing and beyond will be disrupted and changed by AI. Ideally, this will make life easier for professionals and deliver better results for employers.