AHIMA Approved Coding Programs
If you are preparing for a career in medical coding, attending an AHIMA approved coding program is essential. While AHIMA does not specifically approve medical billing and coding programs, it is the go-to agency for those in the umbrella fields of health information and health informatics, of which billing and coding is a part. Graduates from these programs are able to demonstrate they have the skills and training necessary to excel in a medical coding position. Conversely, graduates of programs that have not been approved by the AHIMA may lack the experience and abilities that employers are looking for. Read on to learn everything you need to know about an AHIMA-approved coding program.
What is the AHIMA?
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is one of the leading professional organizations for people employed in the medical billing and coding industry.
The AHIMA offers seminars, organizes continuing education opportunities, maintains a code of ethics, and advocates on behalf of members. There are more than 60,000 current members, and the organization has a guiding presence in the world of medical billing and coding specifically and healthcare generally.
Why is the AHIMA Important?
Most professions have a limited number of organizations they rely on to develop cooperation and consensus among members. Since medical billing and coding is a highly specific and sensitive responsibility that is constantly changing and evolving, it is essential that all active professionals approach their duties in the same way. This ensures medical billing and coding is standardized and meets the needs of all stakeholders. Professional organizations like the AHIMA also protect and propel forward the interests of members so that they have more career opportunities and are treated fairly by employers. In essence, the AHIMA helps active medical billers and coders get the respect that they deserve.
What is an AHIMA Approved Coding Program?
One of the primary goals of the AHIMA is to set the standards that all professionals in the industry follow. That is only possible if all members have the same foundation of education and training. There are medical billing and coding programs available widely across the country, but some are more interested in collecting tuition than providing valuable professional training. The AHIMA is deeply invested in steering motivated billers and coders away from these programs because they degrade the quality of the workforce moving forward. An AHIMA approved coding program is one that has been carefully evaluated by top professionals and determined to provide the level of instruction necessary for entry-level jobs. Another way to think about AHIMA approved coding programs is that they provide the strongest education and best overall value to students.
Is an AHIMA Approved Coding Program Required?
Strictly speaking, the answer is no. There is not a formal requirement for medical billers and coders to have training from an AHIMA approved coding program. However, there is a strong employer bias against job seekers who have received training from a program of questionable quality. It is commonly (and correctly) believed that professionals who have completed these programs lack the in-depth training, high-level knowledge, and strict professional commitment necessary to perform medical billing and coding effectively. Anyone who hopes to kick-start their career with the fewest delays and setbacks possible is strongly advised to seek out an AHIMA approved coding program.
What to Expect from an AHIMA Approved Coding Program
The AHIMA does not puts its formal stamp of approval on specific coding programs. However, the organization does offer highly-respected certification opportunities, and these require a specific educational background to complete. An AHIMA approved coding program is one that provides the educational foundation necessary to move seamlessly though the certification process. Those programs will include training in the following:
- Anatomy & Physiology,
- Reimbursement Methodology
- Medical Terminology
- ICD Training
- CPT Coding
If you are pursuing a certificate or diploma, be sure to evaluate the curriculum carefully before making any formal commitments. Some programs claim to provide the training and education necessary for professional success, but in reality they offer the barest overview of medical billing and coding possible. These programs are a waste of your time and money.
If you are pursuing a degree in Health Information Management at the undergraduate or graduate level, look for programs that have been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM). These have been verified to be of the necessary quality, and they will reliably provide the best path into a career as a medical coder or biller.
Finally, if you are pursuing education related to a new or very specific aspect of coding, the AHIMA itself may be your best source for information. The organization offers a range of online classes, as well as educational resources designed specifically for practicing professionals. The AHIMA cannot provide all the training and education necessary to get started in medical coding, but it is an outstanding source for professional development.
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