Monday, February 18, 2013

What you should know about Coding Programs

Any coding certificate program that bears the AHIMA approval seal is a good choice. Certificate programs that are not AHIMA approved may also offer good training, but it is impossible to tell until the program has submitted detailed results regarding program outcomes, qualifications of the faculty, and curriculum details to AHIMA for review and consideration.

Some certificate programs offer to train the student in a short period of time, and charge high fees for their instruction. It takes time to properly train an individual to become a professional coder. To help you evaluate whether a coding certificate program is a good value consider the following:
  • Do they bear the AHIMA approval seal? If so, an independent peer review analysis has found them to be compliant in all standards, and that the curriculum meets the national model curriculum.
  • If they are not AHIMA approved, compare the course offerings of the program against the national model curriculum (link here) what components are missing?
  • Who teaches the classes? AHIMA requires all coding to be taught by currently credentialed AHIMA members holding either: RHIA, RHIT, CCS, or CCS-P credentials. Typically, faculty from approved programs carries more than one credential.
  • What are the withdrawal and refund policies – can you get it in writing, and do they seem fair?
  • What type of “hands-on” skills training is in the program – how many hours are dedicated to using online encoders? How many hours are dedicated to “authentic coding” where the student learns to code from actual medical records rather than out of coding workbooks?
There are many professional coders who are RHIT and RHIA credentialed. After the initial coding job is secured, a coder will find the path to career advancement may require an advanced college degree with credentials beyond CCS or CCS-P depending on the employer and the job opportunity.

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