Medical billing and coding carries tremendous responsibility upon which patient care, their course of treatment and related payments amounting to tens of thousands of dollars all depend. The precision required and the medical knowledge necessary to properly identify myriad health conditions and procedures means regularly scheduled training must occur in order to keep up with changes and advances in the health care industry. Therefore, proper certification can only come as a result of training through accredited schools to ensure certain standards are maintained.
There are two nationally recognized accreditation organizations that provide for allowing schools to certify students as medical coders. They are the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the Commission of Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIM). Schools you are interested in should list either one or both of these organizations, which can be cross-referenced to be sure. In addition, there are six regional agencies granting institutional accreditation, which are:
– Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)
– New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
– North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NASC)
– Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (NASC)
– Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
– Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
Traditional universities and colleges receive regional accreditation. This is what makes it possible to transfer credits, the primary reason you want to find a properly accredited school. You don’t want to put in the time, effort and money only to find the school you have used is not able to transfer your credits when attempting to get certified or choosing other schools to further advance in your health care career.
Accredited Schools Offering Medical Coders Programs and Certification
What follows is a listing of some of the schools that offer quality, accredited programs:
The AAPC’s Online Medical Coding Courses are conveniently divided into modules including quizzes at the end of each segment so you can assess your progress. As a progressive course with the goal of sitting for exams, this is a very effective approach. In addition to reading, there are critical-thinking exercises and audio lectures. In addition to other learning materials, there is a team of certified coaches to help with the courses. Online courses allow you to study at your own pace anywhere you are comfortable and have Internet access. With AAPC, you are taking courses directly from the source.
The Medical Insurance Billing and Coding Program at Everest College is a nine-month course that offers training in medical insurance, claims processing and collection strategies, current procedural coding and diagnostic coding. The program includes simulated practice in preparing both manual and electronic insurance claims as well as practice at patient interviewing for documenting the information necessary to complete and manage claims.
Penn Foster Career School
The Penn Foster Career School has been regionally accredited by the MSA as well as nationally by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), which makes it possible to take the training course online. Their Medical Billing and Coding Classes Online may be completed as soon as seven months. In this course, students learn how to manage records and file insurance claims, how to prepare insurance forms, how to bill the doctors’ offices and clinics as well as private billing services. Students also complete real-world coding examples. This program includes preparing for the AHIMA certification exam in addition to providing for free membership in the AAPC.
Regionally accredited by the NCA, Kaplan University offers their Medical Billing and Coding Certificate Program providing for the knowledge and technical skills to become certified as a Medical Coder. This program highlights coursework that includes anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, data information processing, medical coding and billing, medical terminology, insurance billing and medical office management. Additional hours include practical medical billing and coding experience and administrative functions within the classroom lab setting. Prepare to sit for either the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) exam or the Certified Coding Specialist physician-Based (CCS-P) exam.
Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA)
The Ultimate Medical Academy (UMA) offers accredited medical billing and coding diploma and degree programs either online or on campus in Tampa, Florida. The industry-relevant topics cover accurate coding of medical and surgical procedures, how to effectively process insurance claims, coding procedures, medical records, and applying ICD-9 diagnosis. Courses include Healthcare Settings, Healthcare Claim Cycle, Claims Processing, Medical Basics and Medical Practice Management Systems. These classes can be completed in 10 months. An associate of science in medical billing and coding, which can be completed in as few as 18 months, includes general education courses, such as English Composition, College Math, Sociology, General Biology and Critical Thinking and Problem Solving as well as a variety of electives.
These are but a few of the schools out there that offer excellent programs to become a certified medical coder or billing and coding. A well-established school provides well-versed professors and instructors. Take the time to engage with the schools to find out what their graduation rate is. With so many to choose from, there is no reason to settle for less. Choosing an accredited school gives you the advantage of the elevated standards of medical coding as well as the expanded choices of coding audits, physician practice management and regulatory compliance.
Be aware that with such high demand in the field, there are countless programs to evaluate and compare costs, features and benefits. Be careful to verify accreditation status. Do your research; find out what graduates are saying. Reflecting your accreditation on your resume demonstrates the desire to serve the public interest with a commitment to getting the job done that is only going to continue to increase in demand through 2020.