Wednesday, 10 May 2017

AMBA certification

The American Medical Billing Association (AMBA) confers the title of Certified Medical Reimbursement Specialist to qualified individuals who pass its certification exam. AMBA also offers a certificate program that teaches medical terminology and ICD-9, ICD-10, CPT, and HCPCS standards for coding medical procedures. You’ll also learn about state and federal regulations, as well as insurance company policies and practices.
AMBA doesn’t recommend taking the exam unless you have on-the-job medical experience, or some other education in medical billing and coding. Continuing education and membership to the organization are also requirements of this certification.

AHIMA certification

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers several general medical coding certifications, which demonstrate the proficiency and accuracy required to work in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, care centers, and private coding businesses.
Certified Coding Assistant (CCA): This is the general-purpose certification for professional coders. The exam requires a high school diploma, but the association encourages medical coding experience or training. AHIMA also requires 20 continuing education units biannually, as well as a fee to remain certified.
Certified Coding Specialist (CCS): This certification is for coders who use their coding skills in a clinical environment, like large hospitals and research institutions. This designation requires specialized training and/or experience, and you’ll need to brush up on your accuracy and proficiency with code systems in order to pass the exam. You’ll also need 20 units of continuing education and a fee to remain certified.
Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-Based (CCS-P): This certification program emphasizes the coding used in physicians’ offices and private practice work environments. AHIMA recommends that you’ve had some combination of work experience or education in coding or managing health records and health information. Like the other AHIMA certifications, this also requires 20 continuing education units every other year (which can be earned from a variety of sources, so check the website for details.)

Pass the AAPC Certified Professional Coder Examination

The AAPC offers twenty-one specialty examinations in medical specialties, such as cardiology and pediatrics, which you can take without earning a CPC or other certification. These exams are conducted in the same way as the CPC exams, but the content can vary slightly. Take a look at the AAPC’s list of specialty credentials to see what coding and other topics you will need to study.

Planning for the Exam

As noted above, the AAPC offers three main medical coding certifications and a number of specialized additional certifications, all of which are earned by examination. All of these examinations are multiple-choice based in medical coding, with some access to a medical coding manual allowed. In addition, the CPC-P exam includes questions on health insurance reimbursement.
All of AAPC’s exams are structured in a similar way: 150 multiple-choice questions, with the exam proctored at a specific location. The subjects of those questions vary; a CPC exam covers most topics in a general sense, while the other exams get increasingly focused on specific skills. All their exams provide you with five hours and forty minutes to finish, as well as providing you with an opportunity to retake the exam once at no additional cost.
AAPC charges a set fee for each of their examinations, which includes membership in the group – $300, or $260 if you have joined AAPC as a student. There is no formal educational requirement, although AAPC recommends that you earn an associate’s degree. You will also need to have two years of experience as a medical biller and coder to be fully certified. However, if you complete the exam without this work experience, you will still receive certification as a coding apprentice (CPC-A, CPC-P-A, etc.) and will earn your full credential as long as you work in the field and complete continuing education.
When you arrive at the exam site, you will be permitted to bring coding manuals with you. Here’s what you can bring:
  • A CPT book (AMA standard or professional edition); no other publisher’s work is allowed.
  • An ICD-9-CM codebook of your choice.
  • An HCPCS Level II codebook of your choice.
  • Officially published corrections to any errors in the above books.
  • For specialty exams only, relevant anatomical charts and sample worksheets for the specific field you are testing on; check the AAPC site for full details.
The questions in the exam are structured so that these books, as well as reasoning and understanding of medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, will permit you to succeed.
You will also need to continue studying in order to keep your certification, along with remaining a dues-paying member of AAPC. You will be expected to complete 36 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) every two years. This is less demanding than it may seem; you can earn a CEU each month by completing an small test in AAPC’s journal, and workshops, online webinars and conferences give you plenty of opportunities to make up the difference.

Preparing for the Exam

AAPC offers a range of exam preparation products, and there is a great deal of material on medical billing and coding available at bookstores. What’s more, you may already be studying medical billing and coding as well as related topics in formal courses at a school or other institution. Here are some tips that may help you prepare more effectively, as well as deal with other problems leading up to your certification exam.
  • If you’re stressed by the prospect of an expensive exam, remember that your payment comes with one free retest. AAPC will provide you with a full report of how you performed, including exact scores and notation of areas where you need to focus your studies. It may be helpful to think of your first try as practice.
  • Remember that you are permitted to bring in codebooks; you will not need to memorize the entire coding system you are being tested on, but instead you will need to know how to quickly and efficiently find out the codes you need. Focus your practice on learning to look up codes quickly and accurately, as well as on medical terminology.
  • A powerful way to study uses flash cards. Write down the information you are studying on a series of them, and go through the entire stack. If you get one right, place it in the “once weekly” stack; if you get it wrong, place it in the “once daily” stack. Review the “once daily” stack daily, moving correct answers into the “once weekly” stack, and do the same for the “once weekly” stack. This combines regular review with a focus on what you truly need to cover.

Study Guides

These resources can help you prepare yourself for medical billing and coding certification. Some of these are unofficial and others are produced by the AAPC or other professional groups.
  • Quizlet: Medical Billing and Coding – This resource provides you with free, student-made online “quizlets”. There is no cost for them, and you can be certain they were made to address genuine student needs.
  • – A free and searchable guide to ICD-9’s code standards, which are the primary topic of your certification exams.
  • Step-by-Step Medical Coding (2013 edition) – A guide to understanding medical coding by a veteran in the field. The latest update to a long series of yearly issues; earlier editions are still largely valid, although you should look up, and keep in mind, what changes have taken place in coding practice.
  • Official CPC Certification Study Guide – Published by the AAPC and written by the same panel that writes the CPC exam, you can be certain this guide will tell you what you need to know. It includes sample questions of all sorts, a specially prepared study guide, and a series of practical examples.

Sample Tests

Taking practice examinations can help you find your own weak spots for further study, as well as having benefits as a learning practice in its own right. These are some sources for sample medical coding and billing tests, which will let you test your learning without pressure and at little or no cost.
  • Medical Coding Consultants – These training specialists provide a wealth of resources on the AAPC certification exam and other medical coding topics. Look for the light blue entries to find the free resources.
  • Career Coders: Test your Knowledge – These sample questions, provided by a medical billing and coding instructional company, let you test your knowledge in specific fields, such as ICD-9, Medicare/Medicaid, and medical terminology.
  • AAPC – Online Practice Exams – AAPC offers a series of online practice exams in all of their certification, providing you with quick feedback, detailed explanations of the reasoning behind various questions’ answers, and as many retakes as you like. They are only available for a fee, although you will get a substantial discount with AAPC membership.


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