Discover an emerging career that blends two fast-growing fields into one.
Here’s a riddle for you: What do you get when you combine the business of healthcare with one of the healthiest careers in business? Answer: A healthcare accountant.
If you’re looking for opportunity and a solid industry in which to use your accounting skills, you couldn’t ask for a better landing place than the healthcare industry. By specializing in an area that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says holds the fastest employment growth and is expected to add the most jobs through 2026, you’re investing your education in a secure employment commodity—one that offers advancement potential and a variety of options.
What are the Specifics of Healthcare Accounting?
Hospitals and medical practices are a business as well as a place helping people get better, and as such they have a lot of overhead and costs that come with operating and managing a huge enterprise. While healthcare accountants do the same tasks any accountant would, their responsibilities revolve around the hospital or medical facility in which they work, so their day to day duties are based in financial health and wellness. Who better than an accountant to help keep things in check and ensure that they’re adhering to federal, state and local regulations?
As a healthcare accountant, you can work in several areas within the administrative and financial departments of a medical facility:
- Budgets and forecasting
- Payroll and finance
- Working with insurers
- Keeping records
One of the most important facets of the job that healthcare accountants handle is the balance sheet. This important financial statement summarizes a medical facility’s assets, liabilities and shareholders’ equity at a given point in time. These three components give investors information about what the facility owns and owes, and what their investment has been.
Healthcare accountants handle sensitive information and as such are bound by patient privacy laws if their job duties include accessing confidential patient information and data.
What Degree Should I Earn?
You should plan on earning a four-year bachelor’s degree to enter a hospital accounting position, and some accountants who specialize in medical accounting earn their master’s degree to enter more administrative and managerial slots in the facility hierarchy. No matter whether you plan on earning a bachelor’s or master’s, make sure your degree program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation Healthcare Management Education (CAHME). CAHME unites professionals and academics alike to evaluate schools and programs and make sure that the education they offer meets quality standards and is up to date as far as curriculum.
Some criteria for which degree you should have may include the size of the facility and the complexity of the role and responsibilities. Passing the CPA exam will ensure your desirability and many people who began their education with a degree in medical billing and coding or healthcare management return to school to study accounting-specific subjects and move into the field.
What Will My Classes Consist Of?
You’ll learn the basics in healthcare billing, computer software (we’ll get to that in a minute), insurance billing, tax accounting, ICD-10 codes, statistics, economics, auditing, management and law, finance and information systems, and quantitative methods. Of course, you’ll be schooled in the principles of accounting throughout your program, especially as it applies to healthcare systems.
Depending upon whether you want to go on and become a CPA, you’ll need to meet the criteria associated with the exam and the advanced coursework necessary to sit for it.
Even if you choose to graduate with a bachelor’s degree, you’ll want to take advantage of professional associations such as CAHME, who offer workshops and seminars to keep professionals in the field abreast of the latest advancements and legal changes in healthcare.
About that Special Software
What software will you be using on the job? As hospitals and medical facilities turn more and more to integrative technology to secure patient data and assist with billing, you’d be wise to learn as much as you can about medical billing and coding software and Electronic Health Record (EHR) platforms.
Good old QuickBooks still accounts for approximately 45 percent of the healthcare accounting software market. But there are some Cloud-based software solutions popping up on the scene. Here are a couple medical and healthcare accounting software programs that are currently leading a fast-growing specialized field:
Intacct: This Cloud-based healthcare accounting-specific software allows for ease no matter the size or type of healthcare organization. It also offers seamless integration with EHRs, such as MatrixCare.
Oracle NetSuite: This Cloud solution is accessible from anywhere and it hosts the data, which gives healthcare accountants and providers the ability to focus on healthcare rather than technology.
Acumatica: Changes in government regulations and guidelines for the ACA and impending new healthcare programs have prodded Cloud-based ERP system Acumatica to focus on managing costs and revenue and providing up-to-the-minute financial reporting to healthcare stakeholders.
Are You Ready to Get Started?
If you’ve been thinking about specializing your accounting career or starting to research accounting degrees and what you can do once you graduate, why not consider the healthcare accounting industry? With industry growth at a high, and no foreseeable downturn in the next decade at least, you have several options open for starting or advancing a great career.
We can help you find accredited programs and schools offering healthcare accounting degrees. All you need to do is click the Find Schools button below to start making the possibilities add up to a profitable future.
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