If you’re considering a career in medical coding, Indiana is a great place to do it. There are several accredited certification programs in the state, and the demand for medical coders is high. In this article, we’ll explain what you need to know to get started in this exciting field.
What is Medical Coding Certification?
Medical coding certification, training and education programs provide the knowledge, skills and competencies to effectively learn and work in a professional clinical role.
This certification confirms that a person has met the state’s recognized standards of knowledge, skills, and competency as set by leading organizations such as AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association) and AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders). Certification is an essential asset for a medical coder because it demonstrates knowledge in the field.
Types of Medical Coding Certification
There are three main types of medical coding certification that you can get. We’ll go over each individual type and its requirements.
CCA: Certified Coding Associate
A certified coding associate, also known as CCA, is an entry-level certification in medical coding.
CCS: Certified Coding Specialist
A more advanced type of certification in medical coding is the certified coding specialist, also known as CCS. This certification is authorized through AHIMA. Medical coders with this certification tend to work in physicians’ offices.
CPC: Certified Professional Coder
Like the CCS, the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification is an advanced type of certification and is considered the gold standard in coding. People with this certification can work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, and clinics.
What does a medical coder do?
Medical coders assign standardized codes to medical procedures, diseases, conditions and supplies. Codes are used to facilitate administrative and financial transactions, as well as track clinical data.
Medical coders work in a variety of practice settings. There are opportunities in doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, medical equipment supply companies and more.
They generally work on a computer and use established coding software programs like EncoderPro and CodeLink. These specific programs make the process of coding easier for some medical coders; however, it is still important to be familiar with paper-based documentation.
Medical coders can work both full and part-time.
how To Become a Certified Medical Coder
In order to become a medical coder, you’ll need to enroll in an approved training program and then sit for an exam for the specific certification you are seeking.
Medical Coding Certification Online Programs
There are numerous medical coding certification programs available online and in person. But which one is right for you?
Free Online Medical Coding Certification
If you’re interested in pursuing basic medical coding certification as a CCA, The Workforce Ready Grant provides funding for qualified applicants to get certified for free through our partnership with IUPUI.
The goal of this 28-credit-hour program is to better prepare you for industry-standard certifications. You’ll focus on pathophysiology, pharmacology, coding, medical reimbursement and fundamental health information concepts.
Upon completion, participants can sit for the Certified Coding Associate exam offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
Additional Online Certification Programs
For individuals looking to pursue a CCS or CPC certification, there are a variety of online programs available throughout the state of Indiana. Check with your local community college, such as Ivy Tech Community College, for program information and admissions requirements.
Medical Coding Certification Exams
There are different exams for each of the three medical coding certification types.
Certified Coding Associate Exam
The Certified Coding Associate exam is offered through AHIMA and is an entry-level certification for those just starting out in the field.
Certified Coding Specialist Exam
To obtain your Certified Coding Specialist certification, you’ll take a different exam. Because this is a Mastery-Level certification, the exam is much more intensive. According to AHIMA’s website, the exam will test the following skills:
- Review patient records and assign numeric codes for each diagnosis and procedure
- Possess in-depth knowledge of the CPT® coding system and familiarity with the ICD-10-CM and HCPCS Level II coding systems
- Are experts in health information documentation, data integrity, and quality
- Play a critical role in a health provider’s business operations, often as a liaison to insurance companies or the government for expense reimbursement
Certified Professional Coder Exam
To obtain your Certified Professional Coder certification, you will take a different exam offered by the AAPC. It is also considered a Mastery-Level certification. According to the AAPC website, this exam will cover the following:
- Expertise in assigning accurate medical codes for diagnoses, procedures, and services performed by physicians and other qualified healthcare providers in the office, as well as professional-fee coding as it pertains to facility settings (e.g., inpatient hospital)
- Sound knowledge of coding guidelines and regulations to meet compliance requirements, such as establishing medical necessity, using modifiers appropriately, and observing bundling rules
- Proficiency across a wide range of services, including E/M, anesthesia, surgery, radiology, pathology, and medicine
- A thorough grasp of anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology to comprehend clinical documentation and code descriptors
- Understanding how to integrate medical coding and payment policy changes into a practice’s reimbursement processes
Why Become a Certified Medical Coder?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities for coders are expected to continue growing between 2016 and 2026 at 22% (faster than the national average).
This is a high-demand field with lots of opportunities for freedom and autonomy. As a certified coder, you’ll be free to work as an employee or as a contractor. With some experience and the right certifications, many coders become independent contractors.
If you’re looking for a career with good job security and higher levels of flexibility, becoming a certified medical coder might be right for you!