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Certified Coding Specialist Job Duties and Education Requirements

Job Descriptions January 8, 2013

The healthcare industry relies on certified coding specialists to understand medical terminology to create numerical codes for medical statistics and insurance purposes. Certified coding specialists need to complete an associate degree program to prepare for their chosen career; however, many employers prefer candidates to have hands on experience.

Job Requirements for Certified Coding Specialist

A certified coding specialist usually get jobs in a hospital or clinic environment where they function as support staff involved in translating medical terminology into a numerical code that can be utilized for statistics and insurance information. The surgical section of the International Classification of Diseases Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) and Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) is required to be understood by certified coding specialists before they can convert the terminology properly into numerical codes. General medical terminology, pharmacology and diseases are also required to be understood by these professionals to be able to do an effective job. Insurance companies often use the codes that certified coding specialists create in order to reimburse providers of Medicare and Medicaid among other services. Researchers such as public health experts among others also use such codes to assist in tracking statistics relating to medical institutions’ diagnosis, infection and treatment rate. Certified coding specialists are indispensable to the health industry in general and the medical documentation process in particular.

Certified Coding Specialist Educational Requirements

Employers of certified coding specialists usually require candidates to have completed two-year associate degree programs in medical billing and coding. Though there are several coding specialists who become employed on the basis of hands on training alone, they can also seek certification from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

Certification is rapidly becoming the accepted benchmark for professionals seeking employment in the field. Such certification can be acquired by taking an exam that comprises two parts; the first has sixty multiple-choice questions, and the second has one hundred eighty hands-on medical case records, students who are taking the exam are required to examine and code. Both parts of the exam have to be completed within a four-hour time-span. Qualification norms for taking the exam include graduation from a school that carries accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). The United States has over two hundred CAHIIM-accredited schools spread across the nation.

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