The AHIMA or American Health Information Management Association has been operating in the health information management area for 90 years.
This organization is recognized globally and involves highly skilled health information management professionals.
They advance health informatics and develop guidelines for the medical coding and billing areas, leading the way in education and advocacy to help improve healthcare at reduced costs.
AHIMA cooperates with college faculty and administrators, government officials, and health information and healthcare professionals to help develop resources for professionals and students.
They provide extensive resources and training, including in-person and online conferences, online libraries, published journals, and regular updates in the field.
They offer certifications and credentials to professionals in health informatics and approve programs at schools certified by them.
They also provide apprenticeships, career planning tools, merit-based scholarships, and mentoring programs.
AHIMA is associated with the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) accrediting body.
Schools have to meet strict requirements for curricula and competencies.
Students who complete an AHIMA-certified program are immediately prepared for employment.
Article Table of Contents
- 1 How to Find an AHIMA-Certified Program in Your State
- 2 Why Get an AHIMA Credential?
- 3 AHIMA Recertification Requirements
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
How to Find an AHIMA-Certified Program in Your State
If you are looking for an AHIMA-accredited medical coding program in your state, you should check the AHIMA website.
Non-degree programs that meet stringent program competencies, including faculty qualifications and program objectives, are granted the Professional Certificate Approval Program (PCAP).
There is a PCAP Directory on the AHIMA website, which you can sort by state to find a program in your area.
There, you can also find the AHIMA-accredited schools directory that offers associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in health information management (HIM).
You can search through this directory by state, program name, degree level, and whether it is available on-campus or online.
Students who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in another field can find a bachelor’s degree certificate.
These degree programs prepare students for HIM careers.
To find a full list of online medical billing and coding schools accredited by AHIMA, search the directory under “Any” region or state, select at least one level of degree, and click online program delivery.
Select your state from the menu to search by state.
Why Get an AHIMA Credential?
In the medical coding and billing industry, AHIMA certifications are highly valuable.
With credentials from schools approved by AHIMA, you demonstrate that your knowledge meets strict standards recognized in the industry.
You get additional advantages with AHIMA coding certification to achieve your professional goals and get on the path to specialization.
You can also obtain more job opportunities and increase your earning potential with AHIMA credentials.
You can obtain an AHIMA certification in many ways.
Those who don’t want to earn a degree in HIM can obtain an AHIMA medical coding certification that meets the same requirements as the degree.
If you earn an AHIMA certification through their medical coding program, you join a respected professional community and can demonstrate your willingness to maintain excellent knowledge and standards in the industry.
Types of AHIMA Certifications
Registered Health Information Administrator:
To obtain the RHIA certification, you need to hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an institution accredited by CAHIIM.
These professionals work as administrators in healthcare areas that involve medical records and patient information.
They can also be employed by insurance companies, government agencies, or as consultants.
Registered Health Information Technician:
Holders of an associate degree from a CAHIIM-accredited program can obtain an RHIT certification.
They primarily work in hospitals and other patient care facilities.
These professionals handle the quality control and data entry of medical information, and data analysis, and can specialize in specific medical coding.
Certified Coding Associate:
You can be eligible for the CCA certification with only a high school diploma.
However, it is recommended to complete an AHIMA-approved program or have some experience in medical coding.
CAAs can perform physician-based and hospital-based coding.
Certified Coding Specialist:
These professionals specialize in assigning ICD-10 codes to medical records.
They mainly work in hospitals to improve the accuracy and efficiency of medical billing and data analysis.
To be eligible for this credential, you need to complete appropriate coursework, have experience in the field, or hold an RHIT, RHIA, or CCS-P certification.
Certified Coding Specialists – Physician-Based:
These are certified medical coders who work in clinics and physician-based settings.
They have advanced skills in practice-based coding, the CPT coding system, and medical records.
You can sit for the exam if you have CCS, RHIA, or RHIT credentials, complete appropriate coursework, or have relevant experience.
Certified Document Improvement Practitioner:
CDIPs are specialists in health information and clinical documentation management.
They improve the process of documentation and ensure that the healthcare industry meets patient care standards and new initiatives.
To sit for the exam, you need AHIMA certification or an RN, MD, DO, or an associate degree.
With experience in clinical documentation improvement, you can be eligible for the certification as well.
Certified Health Data Analysts:
These professionals specialize in data analysis and communication and have proven in-depth and broad knowledge of healthcare data.
To obtain this credential, you need either the RHIA, RHIT, or a bachelor’s degree with three years of experience, or a master’s degree in HIM.
Alternatively, you can have a master’s degree in any field plus one year of experience.
Certification in Healthcare Privacy and Security:
CHPS professionals handle the privacy and security of healthcare information.
This certification proves your expertise in healthcare information security programs.
To earn it, you need an associate degree with six months of experience, or the RHIT or a bachelor’s degree with four years of experience, or the RHIA or a master’s or doctoral degree plus two years of experience.
Certified Healthcare Technology Specialists:
These specialists fulfill the increasing demand for IT professionals in healthcare.
The exams certify you for six different roles: implementation manager, consultant, technical support, practice workflow, implementation support specialist, and trainer.
There are no requirements to sit for the exam, but prior training and experience are recommended by AHIMA.
Certified Professional in Health Informatics:
This credential is new in the growing field.
It’s created for career advancement in health informatics.
These professionals are experts in full system support including data reporting and analysis, management, and security.
Prior certifications aren’t required.
For this credential, you need a bachelor’s degree with two years of experience, a master’s degree plus one year of experience, or a master’s degree from the HIM program.
AHIMA Recertification Requirements
After obtaining the AHIMA certification, the bi-yearly recertification is required.
The following requirements are in place but can vary:
- Earn the Required Number of CEUs (See Chart Below):
80% of the CEU must be earned in the HIIM field.
The other 20%, however, can be on other topics.
If you hold more than one certification, you need to earn 10 additional credits per certification.
- Complete Annual Coding Self-Assessments:
With CAA, CCS, or CCS-P credentials, you have to complete an annual self-review examination and submit it to AHIMA.
AHIMA makes it available on its website.
- Participate in CEU Activities:
Approved activities include independent study, educational programs, AHIMA events, publishing, or presenting professional materials, and participating in CAHIIM-approved clinical practice.
CEU has a rate of 0.5 CEU per 30 minutes where 30 minutes is a minimum.
- Submit Your CEUs by the Deadline:
You can enter the CEU on the AHIMA website during the year.
The CEU must be submitted no later than three months after the end of the cycle.
The review of your account is automatic.
- Track Your Own CEU Activities for Auditing:
AHIMA can do random audits.
You have to maintain records of your CEU activities for a year after the end of the cycle.
Materials include program guides, certificates, transcripts, agendas, and outlines.
- Pay Recertification Fee:
AHIMA membership dues include the recertification fee.
Non-members have to pay $218 for one credential.
Additional ones are $50 each.
CEU Requirements for Single Credential
- Certification – RHIA, CHPS, CHDA, CDIP, CPHI – 30 CEU.
- Certification – RHIT, CHTS-CP, CHTS-PW, CHTS-IM, CHTS-IS, CHTS-TS, CHTS-TR – 20 CEU.
- Certification – CCA, CCS, CCS-P – 20 CEU.
CEU Requirements for Multiple Credentials
- Credential – CCS and CCS-P – 30 CEU.
- Credential – CHPS with RHIT – 40 CEU.
- Credential – RHIA with CHDA – 40 CEU.
- Credential – RHIA with CDIP – 40 CEU.
- Credential – RHIA with CCS and CCS-P – 50 CEU.
- Credential – CHDA with CCS, CHPS, and CDIP – 50 CEU.
- Credential – RHIA with CCS, CCS-P, CHDA, and CDIP – 50 CEU.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Types of Schools Does AHIMA Accredit?
The school should be regionally or nationally accredited by the Department of Education provisions to receive accreditation.
Also, they should have offered the certificate program in medical coding for at least six months.
Schools should conduct a self-assessment, apply for accreditation, and fulfill an independent review process.
They should meet the curriculum requirements.
Every course will be reviewed for standards, content, and objectives.
Once the review is done, a committee will review the study and review recommendations.
Then, they will make a final decision to award accreditation.
Schools are reviewed annually to ensure they keep up with the standards.
What is a CEU?
The CEU, Continuing Education Unit, is an internationally recognized system that helps ensure that professionals stay updated in their education and institutions meet the standards of a program.
In CEUs, one unit usually equals 10 education hours.
Many professionals should complete a certain number of CEUs per year.
You can earn these units through a continuing education program.
By joining a professional association, you receive easier access to continuing education options.
They also update members on the required number of CEUs per year.
To complete the CEUs, you don’t have to necessarily be a member of the association.
Is AHIMA the Only Accrediting Agency for Medical Billing and Coding Programs?
There are other agencies that accredit medical billing and coding programs, however, AHIMA is the only one that accredits full degrees.
They review and approve the curriculum of the institution so that unique programs meet stringent standards.
All institutions that offer coding programs approved by AHIMA are regionally accredited.
How Much Does it Cost to Sit for the CCS Exam?
The CCS exam is $284.05 for Premium members of AHIMA, $299 for regular members, and $399 for non-members.
Students should know that this is not the only online course.
The fee for the CCS-P exam is $299 for members of AHIMA and $399 for non-members.
The CCA exam fee is $199 for members and $299 for non-members.
What is the CCHIIM?
The CCHIIM stands for Commission on Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management.
It is a commission of AHIMA charged with developing certification procedures and standards.
It functions as an independent authority in AHIMA and monitors the certification and recertification programs.
This commission ensures the evidence-based competency and development of HIIM professionals.
The CCHIIM includes a diverse set of professionals.
The leadership includes a chair, chair-elect, and past-chair, and 12 commissioners.
Commissioners should meet leadership and experience requirements, work in the HIIM profession, and maintain AHIMA certification.