Coding/Billing Certifications…..Do you have one?
Have you looked in the paper lately for a position in the coding or billing field? Maybe researched the internet for either of these types of positions recently? Sometimes it can be hard to locate a specific position depending on how the perspective employer has the opening posted for those searching for employment, so one challenge would be to know how to search for the position you are interested in to start. The medical profession is more than just billing and coding. There are many different facets that encompass those two terms. When you are looking at coding you generally have your inpatient facility coders, your outpatient facility coders and your physician coders. The coding positions break out into a few more levels from here but these are the basic threads when you start talking about coding.
From the billing aspect, there are many different facets that fall under this term and many are often overlooked. You would find your registration specialist (which may also be known as your intake specialist and depending on the environment your front desk receptionist), referral specialist, surgery scheduling specialist (or coordinator), appointment scheduler, data entry clerk, insurance claims reviewer, claims processer, customer service specialist, accounts receivable specialist and the can carry on from there as well. As you can see if you work in the environment or if you are getting ready to enter the environment there are many different pathways you can select, the options are plentiful and many if you have at least one thing. That one thing happens to be the one item that most positions are searching for today in some realm and that would be a certification. Some employers depending on the pathway you select are looking for the completion of a billing and coding program or an Associate’s degree depending on the employers accreditation requirements. There are still some positions that are still accepting just a high school diploma or the equivalent which is wonderful but you are starting to find that those positions are becoming fewer and far between.
So, how do you decide on a certification? Which certification should you get? Is there one better than the other? This is a decision that only you can really make for yourself. The best way to make this decision is to gather the facts together so that you can make the best educated decision that you can that will benefit you for what you are looking to do in this profession. Can you have more than one certification? Yes, you can and you will find that many certified individuals in the profession are cross-certified holding certifications with different organizations. We all made decisions that best suited us for our needs and you will need to do the same. So here is a brief road map for you to review the most popular certifying organizations that are commonly known to give you an idea of what you are working with. Just for the sake of documenting, I will list the organizations out in alphabetic order as it is easier to keep track that way when providing details.
American Academy of Professional Coders (also referred to as AAPC): Provides certifications for physician based coding-CPC, outpatient hospital coding-CPC-H, payer coding-CPC-P (for health plans/insurance company coding staff). You can find out more specifics by visiting the AAPC at www.aapc.com.
American Health Information Management Association (also referred to as AHIMA): Provides certifications for medical records as well as coders so there are some different options here to choose from depending on the pathway you are looking at taking your career. From the coding aspect, the certifications offered would be inpatient and outpatient facility coding-CCS and physician based coding-CCS-P. To check out all of the certification options that AHIMA offers, visit their website at: www.ahima.org.
Medical Association of Billers (also referred to as MAB): Provides certifications for those interested in the billing side of the profession. This certification would be a great way to demonstrate your commitment to your profession much like a coding certification does for a coder. To find out more about what the MAB has to offer, check out their website at: mabillers.com.
National Healthcareer Association (also referred to as NHA): Provides a wide variety of certifications in many different disciplines in the healthcare field. Three different certifications that may be of interest may be the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant-CMAA, Certified Electronic Health Record Specialist-CEHRS and the Certified Billing and Coding Specialist-CBCS. Depending on which pathway your career is taking you, these could be beneficial to assist you in your current endeavors or future endeavors. To find out the details on these certifications, research their website at: www.nhanow.com/home.aspx.
Professional Association Healthcare Coding Specialist (also referred to as PAHCS): Provides a Certified Basic Medical Coding Specialist-CBMCS certification for those individuals that may just be entering the profession from some type of coding and billing/HIM program. You can find out more on their organization and what they have to offer by visiting their website: www.pahcs.org.
So as you can see by the brief summary that I listed above, there are a number of organizations in the profession that you can take advantage of to obtain a certification for this profession. So if you do not already have one, what are you waiting for? If you do already have one, why not look at expanding your knowledge and gaining a new one. The more certifications you hold, the more marketable you become. The choice is yours, the time is now, the opportunities are there and the employers are telling you what they are looking for. Step up and prepare yourself for the next step in your career. It is not going to come to you; you have to go after it.