Becoming a medical biller or coder requires certification. Those who choose a career path that will place them in a hospital environment should become familiar with the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Nitin Chhoda shares how a highly respected organization  such as AHIMA, issues multiple levels of certifications for its members.

medical biller or coderThe organization recommends that medical biller or coder completes a training program prior to certification testing.

Depending on the desired certification, students may be required to participate in a short-term program or acquire a four-year degree before being eligible to take a specific certification exam.

Benefit of Joining AHIMA

The focus at AHIMA is providing certification for hospital-based medical biller or coder. The group has yearly conventions, issues certifications and conducts training programs.

It offers continuing education options and networking opportunities designed to keep medical biller or coder abreast of issues that affect them in the professional arena.

AHIMA offers online education courses, programs and webinars and exam preparation.

Students can participate in a virtual lab featuring multiple state-of-the-art software applications they will encounter in their professional capacity.

Different Certification Levels

The group only offers entry level credentials and is available to those who already have first-hand knowledge of coding. AHIMA issues certifications for those who plan a career working in hospitals and strives for excellence in medical record integrity.

AHIMA provides three medical biller or coder certifications:

  • certified coding associate (CCA)
  • correct coding specialist (CCS)
  • correct coding specialist-physician based (CCS-P)

All types of medical biller or coder are recognized and accepted by hospitals, physicians and practice management companies.

Correct Coding Associate

To earn a CCA designation, coders must exhibit competency with in-patient and out-patient coding. It’s an overall certification that allows medical biller or coder to work in multiple venues. It demonstrates competency but not mastery.

Certified Coding Specialist

The CCS is AHIMA’s primary certification that shows a coder has a higher level of skill with procedural and diagnosis coding, are experts in CPT and ICD coding, and knowledgeable in anatomy and medical terminology.

Those earning CCS certification must also know about pharmacology and the disease process.medical billing and coding

Correct Coding Specialist-Physician

Those receiving a CCS-P certification specialize in working within physician offices, clinics and practices with multiple clinicians.

They’re highly skilled professionals who are adept at billing accurately to obtain the highest level of reimbursement for practitioners.

They assign ICD and CPT codes on patient records and may be responsible for transmitting claims to clearinghouses.

Healthcare Privacy and Security

The organization also offers the only combined privacy and security certification. Those medical biller or coder with healthcare privacy and security (CHPS®) certification must demonstrate competence in the design, implementation and administration of security protection programs for all types of healthcare-related organizations.

AHIMA provides medical biller or coder who wants to follow a career path in hospital medical billing and coding with the information, requirements, education and certification they need. The professional organization is one of the most respected in the industry, offering the multiple certification levels those in the medical billing and coding industry require to take their career from associate to specialist.

Watch out for the part two of this two-part series of articles entitled “Medical Biller or Coder — How Do I Obtain Certification?”