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AHIMA compared to CPC ?

cpccoder2008

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I work for a hospital but i do the billing for the physician's. I'm looking into switching jobs and maybe going into a hospital and physician's billing together but everytime i apply at a hospital in my area they require AHIMA certification either CCS or RHIA. What's the difference between the AAPC and AHIMA ? I am CPC and CPC-H, i don't think i could handle obtaining more CEU's to become ccs or rhia, not to metion join another club and pay membership along with another certification test. The hospital i work at requires CPC-H but doesn't have any openings right now.... should i have taken the AHIMA exam instead ?
 

geminitc81

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currently i live in michigan i have a cpc and work at a physicans office. I have noticed that in the state of michigan in a hosptial setting they will only hire ahima certifications. so iam in the process of taking the ccs exam sometime 2009. I have been told that AAPC is more of an outpatient certification? I was going for the cpc-h but the emplyer wants ahima certifican becuz its more of an hosptiial setting certification. Hope this helps
 

jmoravecz

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It seems to depend. I used to work for a hospital (in PA) as a coding auditor and they were fine with my achieving the CPC. The CCS seems to hold a little more credence with some hospitals since it specifically focuses on hospital coding. HOWEVER, you're experienced and currently hold the CPC-H credential, which means you had the skills to pass the exam and would be able to function successfully in the hospital environment. If you're really interested in swithing jobs, get yourself an interview, sell your skills and credentials and should they still feel you need the CCS, discuss either sharing the cost with them, or use them paying for the exam and membership as a neogitation tool. Alot of companies automically pay for membership dues to professional organizations anyway, especially when it's directly job-related. Good luck!
 

cpccoder2008

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I received a call yesterday from a hospital i been trying to get on with and she said they only hire AHIMA certified coders. :( But it seems that since i'm CPC and CPC-H they would accept those but they don't... if i were to take the CCS exam is it any different from the CPC-H ? I don't know of anyone who took this exam so it's kinda hard to decide wheather i would be able to pass or not. I just spent 300.00 on the CPC-H i will have to wait awhile before i spend another 300.00 for the CCS.
 

sherryjean27

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Look on the AHIMA website. It has on there sample questions of the CCS exam. This certification is very valuable in the coding world. Look at all of the job adds. Most of them want the CCS. I know that it is an inpatient certification and so forth. But I have done a lot of research on this just recently, and I plan on obtaining the CCS in the near future.
http://www.ahima.org/certification/ccs_sample_questions.pdf

Above is the link from the AHIMA website.;)

Sherry, CPC
 
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msbrowning

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I too am planning on obtaining my CCS certification. I am seeing that more and more employers require this specific certification, especially for remote positions. I don't know if these employers do not have thorough knowledge of what the CPC, CPC-H and CPC-P credentials are or if they know what they are and just do not accept them. I really hope that more employers start to recognize the CPC, CPC-H and CPC-P credentials and understand their worth. These credentials are valuable and we as coders have worked very hard to obtain them.
 

mmorningstarcpc

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Jennifer,

Great advice! I agree with the other posters also, try to educate the hiring people, sometimes it a matter of what they dont know, not what they do know. Good luck to all!

Machelle
CPC, CPC-H, CPC-E/M
 

Anna Weaver

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ahima and aapc

I too am planning on obtaining my CCS certification. I am seeing that more and more employers require this specific certification, especially for remote positions. I don't know if these employers do not have thorough knowledge of what the CPC, CPC-H and CPC-P credentials are or if they know what they are and just do not accept them. I really hope that more employers start to recognize the CPC, CPC-H and CPC-P credentials and understand their worth. These credentials are valuable and we as coders have worked very hard to obtain them.
I think it's just a matter of education in what the hiring folks know (or don't know). When you look at the credentials of those in positions to hire in our field, especially in medical records, they are generally RHIA and that means AHIMA. The lady who hired me 4 years ago didn't know what CPC even stood for, didn't know the AAPC even existed and had no idea there was anything outside of AHIMA. The gentleman who took over after her, also an RHIA, had no idea until I spoke to him concerning this that there was more than AHIMA out there. Therefore they go with what they know, which is CCS. When I hired they wanted CCS, but I told them I was taking the CPC and they agreed, but wasn't thrilled with it. After I hired and passed my exam, we had 2 CPC working here (one in another department), now we have 4 CPC. So they have broadened their horizens so to speak. The wording now reads certification required within 1 year of hire, but doesnt' stipulate which one so progress has been made. But I think when you check on these jobs, don't ignore them because they only say CCS, call them and talk to them, maybe they really do want a CCS, but then again, maybe they just don't know the CPC is out there.
Anna
 

cpccoder2008

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When I took a coding course i had no idea what coding was. I just graduated high school and was looking for a quick certification in something. My course lasted 9 months and we were only told about the AAPC, no one ever mentioned the AHIMA. I had no idea about them until i started coding and researching more about it. To this day no one really understands what i do. I have been coding for over 5 years and love it. I plan to become certified in as many fields as i can but my employer will only pay AAPC since that is what they require. I'm afraid to go some where's else that what's AHIMA and then i have to pay my AAPC myself... i don't think it's fair. I became certified to prove to myself, along with my supervisor, that i have the knowledge and capability to progress as a coder. I have very proud of my initials behind my name. It reminds me of how hard and long it took me to get where i am today. I am the youngest employee at our office and have more knowledge than most of the people here,, Sorry i didn't mean for that to come out sounding consider i just mean that i worked my was around this company and took the time and effort to learn everything, where most people are set in their ways and love what they do and it doesn't bother them to learn something else. I started from the bottom and worked my way up. Unlike a lot of our employee's who are family members of someone. I started off keying in EOB's all day. Yeah pretty boring, but i showed them i wanted to learn and look where i am today. I just think more people should be aware of AAPC, it wasn't easy becoming certified, i worked really hard and to have a job turn me down and say the don't recognize the AAPC, i find that really offensive. But i will keep that in mind so that if i am ever a supervisor i can educate the HR department on both AHIMA and AAPC.
 

kevbshields

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Unfortunately, the burden does fall to the employee. In many cases the remote coding positions are from firms or contractors. These folks only go with what their client hospitals request--the contractors have no control. Usually requirements like the CCS or RHIT for these positions are built into the contract, meaning (again) the contractors have little or no control.

My advice is to sell yourself. You may not be able to gain one of these remote projects (because many are inpatient based), but that doesn't eliminate you from working on another project elsewhere. It's easy to build upon established success with an employer, so that's a way in the door!

It is our duty to inform these recruiters of the reality of HIM and coding. Chances are these folks have very little prior understanding; they're simply the messengers of policy.

I also encourage AAPC to promote the CPC-P and CPC-H credentials. While we've done better with the "H" lately, there's plenty of room for improvement. Until that happens (outside of the much-ridiculed White Paper AAPC produced on this topic), it's going to be an uphill battle. Your best bets are to locate a manager, director or hiring official who has a wide view of HIM and understands there's more than a single credentialing body and option for coding staff.

Good luck and keep up the good fight!
 

msbrowning

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Hi Kevin,

I agree with your statement, "I also encourage AAPC to promote the CPC-P and CPC-H credentials." I have seen only one job postings that requires the CPC-P credential. Other than that most employers don't even know what it is. I am a CPC-P as well and I thought that obtaining the crdential would somehow be beneficial to me, but so far I am not seeing how it is benefiting me. I hope that it will in the long run.

As far as the CCS exam, do you have any pointers or recommendations for study guides? In your opinion, what is the difficulty level of the CCS exam? I am waiting on my ATT letter and would like to be studying in the mean time.

Thanks,
Nikky, CPC, CPC-P
 

HCCCoder

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As far as I know, the CPC-H is for outpatient hospital coding and CCS is for inpatient. CCS test is very hard and complicated. You better study hard before taking it. It has 2 sections. The first section has multiple questions and you have only 60 minutes to finish 60 questions, so that's 1 minute per question. And the second part has 2 sections. It has inpatient and outpatient cases for you to code. I failed the 1st part by 1 point and was pissed off .
I am planning to take it again next month. It is hard. Unlike the CPC test, this one you can't guess the answers. You have to know what you are doing.
I am sorry if I dissapointed you, it's just it is a very tricky test. I would encourage you to study hard for it before spending your 300 dollars.
P.S. this month AHIMA has a special 10% off for CCS test. Hurry up and get registered while you can save.
Good luck,
Lilit
 

kerrs4

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AHIMA compared to AAPC

I have both CCS and CPC certifications. I can tell you, if I had a coice of taking the AAPC exam or the AHIMA exam again,( not that I want to put myself through that hell ever again) hands down I would take the CPC exam. CPC exam is multiple choice and the answer is right in front of you, you just have to find it and if you are a good guesser, you have some odds in your favor. CCS exam, like the previous post, is in 2 sections. First is multiple choice, but here's the kicker, if you do not pass the first part you do not get to take the second part. The second part is inpatient and outpatient where you must provide the answer (no multiple choice). You are given points for correct answers, but if you have an incorrect code they will take points away. So that exam, I found to be much harder. Also, you have to remember that inpatient and outpatient coding have different guidelines, so you really should have at least a year of inpatient coding experience.
 

HCCCoder

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I wish I knew that I failed the first part so I didn't have to take the second part (the coding). They don't tell you if you did or didn't pass the first part before going to the second part. I agree, it is a lot harder and I hate to think about it that I need to take it again. Good luck!
 

Sonjagirl

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It seems like the odds are against us. They're making it very difficult for us to get "our foot in the door." I guess it will be years,:eek: unless a miracle occurs, before I get a coding job. That's too bad for me, because "time is not on my side."

Now I have to think about getting AHIMA certification. All these hurdles are making my secular life extremely difficult for me. :mad:
 

HCCCoder

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Oh, I am sorry to hear that.
Defenetly get the CCS, and you'll see how many doors will open in front of you.
I do have my CPC since 2006, but still am working to get my CCS because it's extremely important.
P.S. Do not stress out over this. Be positive, and look for it. If you don't find today, tomorrow, next month, you will defenetly find a job after 7,8 months.
Good luck!
 

kevbshields

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Be Careful

Do no think for even a minute that the CCS will make employers flock to you. I had the same impression: this certification will solve all my "problems." Guess what? It didn't.

Luckily, I found my employment home before I sat for the CCS. Still, if you are expecting three more letters behind your name to drastically change your circumstances, I doubt you'll be pleased with the results. Although I encourage folks to challenge themselves, it's unrealistic to have reliance on something that can't do the work for you.

The main point is that the hurdles don't end with gaining credentials, they're daily occurances. If you're serious about a career in coding or HIM, then you really have to be committed to the long haul. If you feel faint of heart at hearing that, perhaps this isn't the industry for you.

Good luck to all.
 

HCCCoder

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Hi Kevin, it's always nice to hear your opinions.

I have to disagree with you becaue the CCS and RHIT is what all the hospitals are looking for. Last year I moved to NY and was looking for a job, with my experience I couldn't get any job in the hospitals because wherever I went, they wanted me to have AHIMA certification. I went to lots of places, took lots of tests, but still, it took me 3 months to find a job. I did, but not in any hospitals because hospitals did want their coders to have passed the AHIMA CCS exam.

This was my experience and I wanted to share with you.

Lilit
 

kevbshields

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Clarification

I'm not disputing that there are benefits to having credentials from AHIMA.

However, what I'm advising is not to carry unreasonable expectations. I've worked in Woodland Hills, CA area before in a hospital environment; I know what the market leanings are for IP coders . . . it's just common sense not to put all your bets on a single event.

Experiences are subjective, Lilit. I know for a fact there are hospitals and similar health networks that hire coders without their carrying AHIMA credentials. I have nothing against AHIMA--I'm a proud member. However, this goes back to what I've preached before: encouraging the acceptance of AAPC credentials in all healthcare settings.

I just want to make sure I'm being clear.
 

HCCCoder

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Kevin,
I do respect you and your opinions as I am very happy to know you a little by reading your posts all the time.

All healthcare settings do accept credentials from AAPC, please don't get me wrong, but for IP coding, the CCS is more preferable, as the AAPC CPC-H is for outpatient hospital coders.

It's always nice to hear your opinions.

P.S. I did work in a hospital as a Compliance Auditor with my CPC, but If I had my CCS, I would've had a chance to work as an IP coder.

Lilit
 

mmorningstarcpc

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Personally, I think the bottom line is not so much the credential you may have, both CPC and CCS have their places, but whether or not you have experience. Many, many places want experience, IN ADDITON to their credential of choice. So it doesnt matter if you have one credential, or multiple, without experience employers may not be interested in you anyway. If you are looking for experience and cant find a paying job, you may want to volunteer in an office or facility, or call a billing service and explain your situation and ask at what position you can start and work your way up to coding. Just some examples of way to gain experience in the real world without having an actual position.

Machelle
CPC, CPC-H, CEMC:cool:
 

Sonjagirl

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Do no think for even a minute that the CCS will make employers flock to you. I had the same impression: this certification will solve all my "problems." Guess what? It didn't.

Luckily, I found my employment home before I sat for the CCS. Still, if you are expecting three more letters behind your name to drastically change your circumstances, I doubt you'll be pleased with the results. Although I encourage folks to challenge themselves, it's unrealistic to have reliance on something that can't do the work for you.

The main point is that the hurdles don't end with gaining credentials, they're daily occurances. If you're serious about a career in coding or HIM, then you really have to be committed to the long haul. If you feel faint of heart at hearing that, perhaps this isn't the industry for you.

Good luck to all.
I'm very interested that's why I'm still "with it" after four years. I don't mean to get frustrated, but I'm sure I'm not the only one. I'm only human, but I'm going to endure. My goal is to get as many initials as possible. I do enjoy coding, even though I'm not certified.
 

geminitc81

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I was in the process of taking the CCS exam until i heard about how hard it is, So i got advice from different collages and they all told me its a very hard exam they directed me to the HIT assoicate programs they have to offer in addition the the program you have to complete an internship which gives you hands on training, after your done with the program you can register through ahimia and get a RHIA or RHIT. I am hoping that this will help in a inpatient setting.

ARWA CPC
 

cpccoder2008

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My employer pays for my membership with AAPC along with all my training and CEU's. If i became AHIMA certified i would have to pay for the test, along with the training and the yearly membership. That is very difficult for some people to do. Then i was told you pay $300.00 for the test and only get one chance !!!!:eek: I think, expirence or not, the first time around, your nerves get the best of you. I know i failed the CPC the first time i took it and i was scheduled to take it again a few months later and i was soo sick that morning i had to rescedule. When i did take it, i passed.
 

mad_one80

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i soooo totally agree. although cpc and ccs certifications are basically up the the employer's preferences all the hospitals i looked into or applied to (at least in southern ca) required ccs or rhia/rhit certifications. they wont even look at your experience/resume if you dont have those certifications!
i took the ccs right out of coding school and failed and was really bummed! i took the cpc a month later because i was determined to get certified in one way or another and plus, there were 2 chances on one exam fee...i passed the 1st time. also realized that the exams are totally different! not just on the ip/op aspect of coding but cpc, like other posters said, is multiple choice so if you cant confirm your codes and are good at "guessitating" answers... you'll get it right. the ccs isnt so helpful. the 1st part was multiple choice but asked all sorts of questions including DRG code and fee calculations and reimbursements stuff! they allow you to bring in a medical dictionary but i didnt even refer to it more than once! also, you are pressed for time. plus the 2nd part is all coding answers...it's either right or wrong. and you have to sequence the codes in the correct order or it's point(s) againts you.
prior to taking the ccs exam, i bought and used many, many review books and even attempted their sample coding exam...the test was much harder!
i am determined to re-take it again in a few months...but still discouraged from failing before:eek:
 

dforfar

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I was in the process of taking the CCS exam until i heard about how hard it is, So i got advice from different collages and they all told me its a very hard exam they directed me to the HIT assoicate programs they have to offer in addition the the program you have to complete an internship which gives you hands on training, after your done with the program you can register through ahimia and get a RHIA or RHIT. I am hoping that this will help in a inpatient setting.

ARWA CPC
Just an FYI in case someone reads this post and misunderstands--RHIT/RHIA credentials are not awarded because you register with AHIMA. You must complete a degree (Associate for RHIT and Bachelor's for RHIA) including practicums and then pass a certification test. The school awarding the degree must be CAHIM approved. Part of the reason RHIT/RHIA credentials are wanted is because they signify the completion of a college degree.
 

rinap

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I agree with sonjagirl. Reading this, made me against AHIMA. I am a cpc throught AAPC, and was planning to give CCS exam. I just passed CPC exam and when I applied in hopitals, they just said that they need AHIMA. I am confused, whether to take classes for CCS or can give exam if we are a good coder?? But reading above msgs, made me stressful and now I think I need to study more for CCS. And for that I need some more information. And I think, I have to work more and more for CCS.
 

aimie

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Study group

They have study group for the CCS on Facebook . I hold an cpc but want to have more opportunities.
 

Sonjagirl

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Every time I look up there is another hurdle. Now I have to think about getting an RHIT or RHIA just to work as an inpatient coder?

As a last resort, I'm seriously thinking about going into nursing--since I can get a job working in a hospital before I even finish the nursing program. This has happened to a few nursing students I personally know. That's just how bad things are here. There is a severe nursing shortage in California.

After I complete the nursing program, I'm wondering how many hurdles I'll have to go just to get license.

I personally know several individuals who were registered nurses. The majority of them advised me against it--two are my teachers, one is my supervisor, one is my doctor's assistant, and another one worked in a clinic. None worked as an RN beyond six years, and some nursing students aren't feel thrilled about the profession.

I don't mind working as a medical administrative assistant or probably a ward clerk. It's hard to get into this, too. Every other medical position is being outsourced.

Decisions . . . . decisions . . .
 

cpccoder2008

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The CCS exam is very hard. It is nothing like the CPC. For one, you cannot write in your book. You can highlight and make simple coding notes but no coding guidelines. You also have one chance at it. They have recently changed the format of the exam so i'd highly recommend everyone considering taking it to look at the AHIMA website. I see people post here all the time that they are not sure which creditials to go with, in my area it is pretty simple, CPC = Physician's CCS= Hospital's. We have three major hospitals in my area and only one will accept the CPC-H. The other two will not even allow you to fill out an application unless you are CCS. I am currently studying for the CCS exam and can tell you after eight years expirence in both hosptial and physician's office i am still having a hard time passing the CCS. It take alot of studying but is well worth it in the end. Don't give up. If you are dedicated and willing to put the time/money into it then go for it. Having all these creditials behind your name will never hurt you nor will it ever be a waste of money. I first felt that i should have never became CPC and should have went straight to CCS out of college but now know that it isn't that simple. I would have never passed nor would i have been given the oppertunities in my career that i have now. Best of luck to everyone.
 

rinap

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Can any one provide me the information to get reading materials for CCS exam?? I am ready to buy. And if anyone have any info for any of the colleges providing the classes for the ccs exam preparation than pls let me know. :)
 
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