Where The Blind Work
Medical Careers

Data Entry Specialist-Medical Biller

Cheryl Echevarria

What do you do on your job?

I am a certified insurance specialist, which includes being a medical insurance biller and coder. Primarily the job is to take all patient information: correct spelling of first name, middle initial, last name, date of birth, home address, phone number, if employed, name of employer, insurance card information, as well as the name of the doctor who saw the patient.

Then, the coding comes into place: choosing the correct code for the reason the patient is seeing the doctor, what was done in the office, and then the code for the outcome.

To what extent are you blind and what special adaptations do you use on the job?

I have reduced visual acuity from diabetes. I am legally blind.

I use ZoomText on my computer. I do not need to work with paper documents.

What are the qualifications to enter this job position?

To be a medical biller one does not require schooling. However, it is helpful to know the laws of insurance, how Medicare and the other insurances work, and to have a basic knowledge of what goes on in a doctor's office. I would highly recommend a nine-month course in office procedures. Much of the needed specialized knowledge is learned on the job and the more knowledgeable you become, the more jobs of this nature will become open to you.

To be a medical coder in a hospital is a different story altogether. This requires you to complete a series of classes that can take up to four years, and includes taking health information management coursework. You will need to take the national certification test from AHIMA, which is the American Health Information Management Association examination.

What influences did you have along the way which aided you to be successful?

I went into this field because of my frustrating experience dealing with the health system. In 2001, I became blind due to diabetes, lost kidney function, and had to go on dialysis. Then, in 2005, I had a kidney transplant. During this transition in life, dealing with doctors' offices, Medicare, and insurance companies, I realized I could do this work and do it better than those who performed the work for me.

Medical Transcriptionist

Lela Behee

What do you do on your job?

I listen to dictation by physicians and other allied health professionals and transcribe it in a program that is similar to Word but more tailored to the needs of a medical transcriptionist. I work out of my home and I then upload the report via the Internet to the hospital.

To do this job, one needs to be a good listener, to have an ear for understanding people speaking English as a second language, to be a good speller, to have a good basic background of medical terms, to have knowledge of medical abbreviations and medications and to be able to use medical reference material via the Internet and/or medical reference books.

One must have a basic skill in using the computer, at least have enough knowledge of a computer to use the Internet, open and close programs, and do basic word processing.

To what extent are you blind and what special adaptations do you use on the job?

I have light perception only; having been born legally blind and never was able to read print.

In my work, I use Braille extensively, not only to check the reports I am doing, read patient information on the screen, electronically clock in and out of work, but also to read reference material in saved documents or information on the Internet. I use Job Access With Speech (JAWS) and my 80-character Braille display. Other than these adaptive devices and software, I really do not need any other special equipment or help.

What are the qualifications to enter this job position?

To become a medical transcriptionist, the most common way is to get certification from a school, preferably a major school that is recognized by most of the medical transcription companies out there. One that has been praised highly is Andrews School, which has classes online and all materials can be accessed by screen readers.
The companies who hire transcriptionists prefer 2 years or more of experience, but will consider you if you have graduated from a school they recognize and you pass their on-line test.

What influences did you have along the way which aided you to be successful?

As far as my influences go, medical transcription was not my first choice; I had a degree in history. But by my last year in college, I realized I would not be able to use my degree. I had heard of blind people going into medical transcription. As I was interested in the field of medicine and since they had a training course at the Lighthouse in Houston where I was living at the time, I decided to take the course. As time has gone on, I have grown to like and appreciate that I did end up in this field, because I can take this job with me anywhere in the U.S. or Canada that I would want to live without any interruption in employment.

Social Workers

David R. Stayer

What do you do on your job?

I assessed the medical and psychosocial needs of patients, implemented a professional plan of intervention and resolution, and supervised social workers and student interns. I did not travel out of the hospital, but went to most of the 19 floors to see patients.

I wrote policy and procedures for clinic patients and those with disabilities.

I conducted training seminars for the eye doctors and other hospital staff on blindness and sensitivity to other disabilities.

I ran two groups, one for diabetics and facilitated a group for patients and families with ALS.

To what extent are you blind and what special adaptations do you use on the job?

I am totally blind from birth.

For taking notes and keeping records, I used Braille.

Also, to utilize the hospital computer system, I used a computer with Window-Eyes.

I used volunteers which I screened to read handwritten notes and charts.

What are the qualifications to enter this job position?

One requires a Master's Degree and a professional license from your specific licensing agency. If you are a recent graduate, you must acquire the license within a specific time period and take a promotional exam.

What influences did you have along the way which aided you to be successful?

I did not have a specific blind mentor, but being active in the National Federation of the Blind certainly helped in my attitude, which has led me to fight for my rights and that of others while I was working.

Jan Bailey

What do you do on your job?

I interviewed new patients in the nursing home, did a social history for the chart, charted on them every three months, helped with discharge planning, provided support and encouragement to the residents, did some shopping for the patients, and I provided information and support to the residents' families.

To what extent are you blind and what special adaptations do you use on the job?

I am totally blind from retrolental fibroplasia (RLF/ROP), too much oxygen in the incubator after birth.

I used a Braille writer and typewriter; this was a long time ago. I also used a slate and stylus, Braille labeling slate to make Braille file labels, and some perforated paper to put in the chart so I would know where to begin typing. Today, I would do the notes on the computer. I used a driver to do the shopping, and a reader to do some of my paperwork.

What are the qualifications to enter this job position?

When I started, I had a bachelor's degree, but now you need a master's degree.

What influences did you have along the way which aided you to be successful?

I had a good guidance counselor in high school who encouraged me to get some work experience. I worked summers and Christmas vacations in a darkroom splicing film; I will not write about this job, because it is obsolete; but it was definitely good experience for me to have. I have since moved on to another professional position as a rehabilitation counselor working with the blind and deaf-blind.

Where the Blind Work