Project Xtern Frequently Asked Questions

Facility Questions and Answers

Q: What is an AAPC-AOES?
A: AAPC-AOES stands for AAPC – Approved Official Extern Site. In short, this is any health care facility that has been approved to be part of providing AAPC members experience through mentorship.

Q: Why did AAPC start this program?
A: AAPC has taken feedback from its members very seriously regarding providing opportunities for industry experience and job placement. Project Xtern reaches out to the medical coding/billing community to provide these members with the resources to gain valuable experience and learn along the way through mentorship. This will provide the member with valuable tools and necessary references when attempting to secure an entry level position in this field and provide facilities professional medical coding help.

Q: What benefits does a facility gain through being an AAPC-AOES?
A: The facility gains a wonderful opportunity to observe the extern as a potential fit for an entry level position. Typically within the first two to three weeks the facility can determine the extern's work habits and ethics, motivation levels, communication styles and their ability to adapt and progress in the field.

As soon as two weeks, the extern can begin to provide valuable assistance to the facility by performing coding tasks while they continue to learn more each day. The value of the extern becomes clearly apparent to the facility when the rest of the unit begins to experience relief from what can be overwhelming workloads. In any other new hire circumstance the facility does not have the advantage of "trying out the employee" before permanently hiring the person. Typically facilities hire a new position and pay them for 30-90 days to be trained on systems and processes. Overall having an extern through this program saves the facility money and promotes loyal dedicated employees.

Q: What if the extern is not working out?
A: If at any time you feel that the extern is not a good fit you may release them. The facility has complete control.

Q: What does HIPAA privacy rule say about allowing non employees, specifically Xterns, to view Protected Health Information (PHI)?
A: The Department of Health and Human Services has published an FAQ about this very topic. It states: "The definition of 'health care operations' in the Privacy Rule provides for 'conducting training programs in which students, trainees, or practitioners in areas of health care learn under supervision to practice or improve their skills as health care providers.' Covered entities can shape their policies and procedures for minimum necessary uses and disclosures to permit medical trainees access to patients' medical information, including entire medical records."

Q: Does AAPC see this as a positive compliance move for facilities?
A: Yes, the Office of Inspector General (OIG), has published the following information: "Ideally new billing and coding employees will be trained as soon as possible after assuming their duties and will work under an experienced employee until their training has been completed." Federal Register/ Vol 65, No 194 Thursday October 5, 2000. Notices.

Q: Does AAPC give any benefits to facilities for signing on as an AOES?
A: Yes, AAPC rewards facilities by providing them with one free webinar a year for every year they are an approved facility. The reward will be included in the facility welcome packet with your certificate and welcome letter. It will come in the form of an AAPC Audio Certificate. This is just our way of saying thank you for giving back to our AAPC medical coding and billing community.