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Orthopedic Coding Alert

Alphabet Soup:

What Do All The Certifications Mean?

Before you crack the textbooks and hop on the certification train, you should understand the differences between the various specialty certifications with the following descriptions:

CPC, CPC-H: More than 56 percent of our respondents held a CPC (certified professional coder) or CPC-H (certified professional coder-hospital) certification, making it the most common specialty designation in our survey. The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) grants these certifications.

The CPC certification indicates that the coding professional can determine appropriate procedure, diagnosis and supply codes for medical practices, and has strong knowledge of compliance, billing, reimbursement and other practice-management issues. The CPC-H certification indicates that the recipient has similar qualifications, but for hospitals rather than private practices. Visit the AAPC Web site at for more information on CPC certifications. CCA, CCS, CCS-P: Nearly 15 percent of the orthopedic coding professionals whom we surveyed hold either a certified coding associate (CCA), certified coding specialist (CCS) or a certified coding specialist-physician (CCS-P) designation. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers these credentials.

The CCA is an entry-level coding credential that can help set new coding professionals apart from those without certifications. CCS recipients have the expertise necessary to glean medical data from patient records (mainly in the hospital setting) and can select and assign appropriate CPT, ICD-9 and supply codes.

Coding professionals who hold the CCS-P designation are proficient in coding medical records in settings such as physician offices, group practices, multispecialty clinics, or specialty centers, according to the AHIMA Web site. Visit for more information on acquiring the CCA, CCS or CCS-P certification.

RHIT, RHIA: Twelve percent of our respondents were certified as either a registered health information technician (RHIT) or a registered health information administrator (RHIA). 
AHIMA grants the RHIT and RHIA certifications. Most RHITs work in hospitals, although they can work in any aspect of healthcare. Their primary area of expertise is ensuring the quality and accuracy of medical records.

RHIAs are likely to collect, interpret and analyze patient data for various purposes within a healthcare organization. For information on RHIT and RHIA certification exams and requirements, visit CHBME, CMBA: Just five of our orthopedic respondents hold a certified healthcare billing and management executive (CHBME) or certified medical billing associate (CMBA) designation.
The Healthcare Billing and Management Association (HBMA) grants these certifications. The CHBME certification is available to owners and senior management of HBMA member companies. CMBA certifications are reserved for managers, supervisors and other mid-level staff of HBMA member companies. Visit for information on gaining these certifications. CHP, CHS: Only six of our survey respondents hold either a certification in healthcare privacy (CHP) or certification in healthcare security (CHS) designation. These exams are also administered by AHIMA, although [...]

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