When it comes to medical coding, there are two medical coding certifications that are known to be more prominent and widely recognized than others. AAPC’s CPC and AHIMA’s CCS-P are the two most widely recognized medical coding certifications. CPC is an acronym for Certified Professional Coder offered by the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC). CCS-P stands for Certified Coding Specialist-Physician, which is offered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).
When it comes to choosing between these two well known medical coding certifications, there are some factors to be considered to enable you make the best choice. Below are some of the major similarities and differences between AAPC’s CPC and AHIMA’s CCS-P.
Coding is known to be of two types, which are Facility coding and Professional coding. The first thing you ought to do when choosing your most preferred coding certification is to decide which of these coding types appeals to you the most. Facility coding has to do with the type of coding carried out on inpatient services. These are mostly patients who are on admission in hospitals. Facility coders are known to work mainly in hospitals generally. Both have their challenges and advantages, so it really depends on which environment and skills you’d like to acquire in your medical coding career.
When we talk of professional coding, we mean the type of coding carried out on outpatients as part of outpatient services. Some of these outpatient services that require professional coding include; emergency medicine, surgery centers, private practices, etc. Professional coders are known to work mainly in doctors’ offices.
When it comes to the two types of coding certifications mostly used, the CPC medical coding certification can be said to be more or less a professional coding certification. This makes it most suitable for people who are considering careers in surgery centres or in medical private practices.
The CCS-P medical coding credential on its part is known to be more or less a facility coding certification. This makes it ideal for people with dreams of pursuing careers in hospitals.
Another important factor worthy of note are the certification exams. For both the AAPC and AHIMA, you’ll need to sit for and pass a very lengthy exam as a necessary requirement. The standard in medical coding is high and there is a huge demand for highly qualified and proficient coders.
For the CPC exam, you will have to sit for a 150 multiple choice question exam. To sit for this medical coding certification exam, you must be a member of the AAPC with an annual membership fee of $120.00. The fee for the CPC is estimated at $300.00 and lasts for about 340 minutes. You will be offered two chances to take the CPC exam.
For the AHIMA CCS-P exam, you will have to sit for the 4 hour exam in two parts. The first part of the exam requires you to attempt 60 multiple choice questions in one hour. The other part of the exam will take you 3 hours that requires you to attempt real medical record coding. Coding these records accurately is a necessary requirement for passing this second part. Sitting for the CCS-P does not require AHIMA membership, though you will end up paying a higher exam fee if you are a non-member.
The membership fee for AHIMA is $165.00 and to sit for the CCS-P exams as an AHIMA member, you must pay a $320.00 exam fee. The exam fee for non-members is $405.00. This fee offers you only one chance of sitting and passing the CCS-P exams whether you are a member or a non-member.
The CPC exam is arguably the easier between the two, but by no means it’s a pushover. Both exam passing rates can be depressing news for first time exam-takers, but with the proper coaching, practice, tips and strategies most will be able to pass the exam the first time. It is common for medical coding students to get both coding certifications to give them an edge over other medical workers with one coding certification. With both CPC and CCS-P certification, you can move between facility and professional coding without much fuss and make yourself highly desirable as a certified medical coder.
If you’ve made it this far in this post, congratulate yourself because here’s the good news: you can use certain study guides to prepare yourself for the AAPC CPC exam as well as the AHIMA CCS-P exam. Not any study guide will do, as it needs to be comprehensive enough to accommodate both certifications.