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How Medical Coders Can Choose an AHIMA Certification Level

Although AHIMA certification is most desirable for hospital-based medical coders, this certification is also accepted in physician practices or practice management companies. Here are the basic certifications offered by AHIMA:

  • Certified Coding Associate (CCA): This certifies that the coder has demonstrated proficiency in inpatient and outpatient hospital-based coding. It’s a nice overall certification that prepares you for multiple environments.

    Although the CCA exhibits competency in both clinical and hospital settings, it doesn’t show that you have a mastery of either. If you want to go for the higher tier of certification, go with the CCS or its physician-specific counterpart, the CCS-P.

  • Correct Coding Specialist (CCS): This is the main certification offered by AHIMA. It indicates that you have competency in hospital coding, and it requires a higher level of expertise in diagnosis and procedural coding than the CCA certification does, because as a CCS, you are able to abstract codes from patient records.

    People who attain this certification are also experts in both CPT and ICD coding systems. And just like CPC-certified coders, the CCS possesses a strong knowledge of medical terminology and human anatomy. The CCS curriculum also contains instruction in the disease process and pharmacology.

    If working in a big hospital is your bag, then you’re going to interface with all kinds of people and situations. The CCS helps you get ready for all of it.

  • Correct Coding Specialist-Physician Based (CCS-P): This certification indicates that you specialize in physician settings, such as physician offices, and are responsible for assigning ICD-9 diagnosis and CPT procedure codes based on patient records. You have thorough knowledge of health information and are dedicated to data quality and integrity because data submitted to insurance companies determines the level of reimbursement to which the physician is entitled.

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