When looking for a medical coding program, there are hundreds of options to choose from. They span from bachelor to associate programs, certificates and diplomas offered online. With all the different names and program lengths, how do you know which one to choose? The best way to decide is by being able to tell which one will give you the tools needed to pass the certification test and land the most lucrative jobs.
The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) are the recognized source for medical coding certification in the medical community. Both offer the most popular credentials. AAPC offers the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) which focuses on coding used in patient settings like emergency rooms and doctor’s offices. AHIMA’s Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) for those interested in hospital and in-patient coding. Since employers feel confident applicants with CPC or CCS certification are qualified, you should pick a program that will prepare you to pass the exam.
It is possible to start working as a medical coder without first passing the certification test. For example, you might work as a receptionist at a doctor’s office and learn coding as part of your job responsibilities. Experience alone is enough to work in the field and eventually pass the exam with a few supplemental courses. Most people do not have access to this information and will have to find a medical coding program to pick up the info.
Whether a traditional Associate degree, distance learning course, or a consultant bootcamp, the medical coding program should have the following course types to prepare you to sit for either the CPC or CCS exam.
Medical Coding Program Classes Should Include The Following
There should be a variety of coding sets covered teaching the principles of the primary codes including CPT, HCPCS Level II, ICD-9-CM. An advanced medical coding program for payment system and outpatient services is a plus. The titles of the classes will vary, but should teach how to determine diagnosis by practicing coding patient medical records.
- Introduction to Health Care Records – This course will teach you how to read hospital charts and give background information on medical record keepers, and billing and coding organizations.
- Health Information Management – Shows where health information comes from and how it is used including how to compile, number, file and store the information.
- Medical Terminology – The course studies medical terminology through anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, laboratory, terms and abbreviations.
- Fundamentals of Medical Science – The class outlines diagnoses, surgical procedures, signs and symptoms, medical equipment, to help understand current procedures and therapies.
- Health Statistics and Registration – A review of the collection of data, common computations, and how to present and report date.
- Computers in Health Science – Topics teach how to use computers for database management, make spreadsheets, manipulate graphs and other computer skills needed with health information management.
- Professional Seminar – A class that reviews professional conduct and the important topic of how to make a resume and conduct interviews, to help with finding employment.
A medical coding program that teaches you practical material is what you need to get started in the field.
Focus on absorbing the information so you can apply for a job straight away. Employers will give you a test, to see if you can apply what you learned. Or you can sit for the exam straight away. It doesn’t matter what form of schooling you chose, you receive the same certificate once you pass the exam. Certification in hand from a good medical coding program, you now have what you need to be a top earner in a stable healthcare career.
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