Medical coders are essential to the operation of any healthcare entity. Medical coders ensure that providers are properly reimbursed, data is tracked is accurately, patients receive the best care and much more. There are many different certifications offered through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) one can obtain as a medical coder. To obtain the following certifications applicants must take the AHIMA mandated tests.
Registered Health Information Technician, RHIT:
One of the main duties of RHITs is to ensure patients’ medical records are accurate, timely, and complete. They ensure records are correctly entered into clinical data bases. In most cases, RHITs specialize in coding procedures and diagnosing inpatient electronic health records (EHRs) for reimbursement and data tracking reasons. RHITs also use their expertise to assist cancer registrars, which are organizations that collect and store data regarding cancer patients. To qualify to take the AHIMA RHIT test applicants must have a associates degree in health information management from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information (CAHIIM); or have graduated from a HIM program that has been approved by AHIMA.
Registered Health Information Administrator, RHIA:
RHIAs are responsible for managing patient’s medical records and information. They are also responsible for ensuring records are stored in a way that is compliant with medical laws and ethics. They administer digital information systems. RHIAs also use medical terminology and classification systems to collect and analyze patient data. In many cases, RHIAs are put in a management position where they manage other staff members and operational units, while interacting with all levels within their organization. In order to qualify to take the AHIMA RHIA test applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a program accredited by CAHIIM; or graduate from a HIM program that had been approved by AHIMA.
Certified Coding Specialist, CCS:
CCSs work in a hospital setting reviewing medical records and interpreting medical terminology into code form that is later used for reimbursement and data tracking. CCSs are experts in ICD-9-CM and CPT coding systems. To obtain a CCS, candidates must be RHIT, RHIA or CCS-P certified; or have completed the proper training set by AHIMA; or have at least 2 years coding experience directly applying code; or be certified by a different organization and have at least 1 year coding experience directly applying code.
Certified Coding Specialist- Physician Based, CCS-P
Like CCSs, CCS-P review medical records and interpret medical terminology into code. CCS-Ps code in a physician-based setting. CCS-Ps have a deep understanding of CPT coding system and have experience with ICD-9-CM and HCPCS Level 2 coding systems. To receive a CCS-P certification applicants must be RHIT, RHIA or CCS certified by AHIMA; or have complete a coding training program that meets all requirements set by AHIMA; or have at least 2 years coding experience directly applying codes; or have a CCA certification and a minimum of 1 year coding experience directly applying codes; or have a coding certification from another organization and at least 1 year coding experience directly applying codes.