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Do You Need a Good Memory to be a Medical Coder?

If you have always wondered what was involved with medical coding and assumed that working in this job meant you would have to memorize thousands of medical billing codes, then you might be surprised to know that this is not the case. The experts at tell us that those who work as medical coders will usually know some of the more commonly used codes off by heart, but with online databases like theirs there is no need to remember any of them. So, does that mean medical coders do not need to have good memories?

Is a Good Memory Necessary for Medical Coding?

Well, yes and no. While you do not need to memorize every medical code used, you would need to be able to remember what type of codes are used for specific processes and tasks. You do not need to have photographic memory skills to get a job as a medical coder, but you would probably find the job harder if you struggled to remember the basics. But that would be the same for any job.

What Do Medical Coders Do Every Day?

Now that you know you don’t have to remember thousands of different medical codes, you might be interested in learning how to do this job. But before you do this, you might want to know a bit more about what coders actually do on a day-to-day basis.

If you are not already aware, the medical coder’s job is to take patient files and then translate them into code. Although that might sound extremely complicated, with the right training you may find that mastering the role of medical coder is easier than you think.

With reference code books and online databases, translating patient files into code can be quite straightforward. However, that does not mean that medical coding does not come with its own set of challenges.

Sometimes, patient files can be difficult to read or be missing information. It is the medical coders job to find the relevant physician to get the right information. Medical coding is often akin to detective work, particularly when rejected claims are sent back by an insurance company or other payer. It will be up to the coder to cross-reference codes and data to identify the error and correct it before resubmitting the claim to the medical biller.

What to Know About Medical Coding

Something that most people do not realize is that medical coding and medical billing are not the same thing, although in some organizations the same person will be responsible for both. Medical coders assign the codes to the information in the patient file, while the biller will prepare the claim for submission to the relevant payer.

Medical coding is a fast-paced role, and while you don’t need to have a good memory to get the job, having one will definitely be a bonus. This is because the more codes that you do learn and memorize, the quicker you can get the job done. You will likely find that some codes are used much more often than others, and they will begin to stick in your mind. When you can automatically apply certain codes to diagnoses and services, you will not have to spend time looking them up.


Medical coding is a fantastic job that is both challenging and rewarding, but contrary to widely held belief you do not have to memorize thousands of codes to be able to do the job. The codes you need will always be accessible via online code data bases or coding reference books.

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