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Degree Overview: Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree in Medical Coding Technology

Majors Overview February 21, 2014

In a medical coding technology program, students will be prepared for careers in the medical field that involve helping others. Medical coders, also called healthcare and medical records technicians, are always in demand. An Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree in medical coding technology is the first step to getting started in this career path.

A.A. Programs in Medical Coding Technology

Students enrolled in the medical coding technology program are trained to seek occupations related to health information technology. Students learn to gather and code important healthcare information through the employment of the most up-to-date knowledge of disease processes, classification systems and medical office software available. Technical schools and community colleges offer this two-year program.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require applicants to hold a GED certificate or high school diploma. Students enrolled in some schools may be required to complete prerequisite classes in business computer applications, anatomy and physiology and medical terminology. Applicants may also have to submit to a criminal background check.

Coursework

Coursework is typically a combination of classroom lectures, lab experiences and supervised clinical studies. After they complete the program, graduates will be ready to sit certification examinations. Coursework may typically include topic areas such as:

•Coding and classification systems
•Statistics in health information management
•CPT procedural coding
•Healthcare delivery systems
•Quality assessment
•Health information management
•Legal and ethical issues with healthcare systems

Career Choices

A high job growth rate of 22% has been predicted for medical records and health information technicians during the decade between 2012 and 2022 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). They may choose from various career titles such as:

•Coding specialists
•Health information coders
•Medical records technicians
•Health information technicians
•Medical coders

Continuing Education Choices

Those who successfully complete associate’s degree programs may seek entry-level occupations or opt for continued education. After they have garnered work experience, they may volunteer for specialty certification or earn bachelor or master degrees in health information technology and pursue health information manager positions. Certified medical records and health information technicians are preferred by most hirers who treat such certification as a demonstration of the candidates’ knowledge and skills of medical coding technology.

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers a Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) credential to interested individuals who would have to complete formal training and pass a written exam. The Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS), the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) and the Board of Medical Specialty Coding & Compliance (BMSC) are other certifying agencies that offer credentials to these professionals. Specialty coding certifications are offered by both the PAHCS and the BMSC.

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