Medical Coding AAPC: Why This Credential is Important to Practices
As far as small medical practice owners should be concerned, the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offers a range of certifications that essentially validate the expertise and competence of their staff.
Having this medical coding certification sets a medical coder apart as a professional with a thorough understanding of all the various coding practices and regulations in California and throughout America, too.
If you’re looking to streamline your revenue cycle management, as well as mitigate audit risks and generally ensure solid practice management, this article will equip you with all you need to know about the importance of having AAPC credentials. Let’s begin!
What Is The AAPC & Why Is It a Reputable Authority In Medical Coding?
The AAPC was established back in 1988 and since then has gained a fairly solid reputation as being one of the most trusted authorities in the field of medical coding. This is thanks to a few different factors, namely the fact that they’ve set industry standards, provided training programs and education, and even certified thousands of professionals throughout the United States, both for medical and outpatient coding.
As touched on, the AAPC’s reputation basically stems from its overall commitment to upholding some of the highest standards of professionalism that can be expected in medical coding.
They’ve developed a pretty rigorous certification process that assesses a coder’s competency and ensures they have all the right skills needed to accurately assign codes and follow complex coding guidelines, as well as things like a strong grasp of medical terminology.
The AAPC Credential As a Mark of Excellence In The Industry
Ultimately, obtaining one of these qualifications demonstrates a coder’s overall commitment to their profession. You have to meet fairly stringent criteria to actually receive the AAPC credential, so it’s always an attractive trait to look for in a potential coder.
Whether it’s outpatient coding, inpatient coding, or even things like evaluation and management (E/M) coding, this certification not only validates their proficiency in a particular medical specialty but also equips them with all the specialized knowledge that’s required to excel in their chosen field.
So, as a small medical practice owner, it’s quite clear why you’d seek out medical coders with these kinds of credentials, as it means you’re getting the most qualified people for the role.
The Various AAPC Certifications & Their Respective Focuses
Though we’ve been talking about the AAPC credential more broadly, it actually offers a fairly diverse range of different certifications that are tailored to various different coding specialties and career paths.
Each one of these certifications has a unique focus, so let’s look at some of the more prominent ones:
Certified Professional Coder (CPC)
Perhaps the most well-known certification, this one is highly sought after as it validates their expertise in outpatient coding across multiple different healthcare settings.
CPC-certified coders are usually well-versed in accurately assigning codes for things like diagnoses and procedures and are generally proficient in interpreting medical records for coding services performed in outpatient facilities.
Certified Inpatient Coder (CIC)
Conversely, we have the CIC certification, which focuses more on inpatient coding instead, giving coders all the skills they need to accurately code medical procedures and conditions that take place in a hospital setting.
Certified Evaluation & Management Coder (CEMC)
Lastly, the CEMC certification refers to evaluation and management (E/M) coding, which plays a fairly vital role in accurately documenting things like patient encounters and also determining the appropriate level of reimbursement you’re owed.
Benefits of AAPC Certification
Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons why you’d want AAPC-certified coders as part of your practice:
Increased Accuracy & Compliance With Coding Regulations
As mentioned, AAPC-certified coders generally possess the most comprehensive knowledge of coding guidelines which essentially ensures accurate assignment of codes at all times.
Improved Reimbursement Rates & Revenue Optimization
Similarly, this proficiency in the role means they’re well-versed in optimizing your coding practices so reimbursement rates can be maximized. Naturally, this is going to have an overall positive impact on your practice’s revenue streams and, subsequently, financial stability.
When you’re considering the benefits of AAPC certification, it’s also recommended that you explore some of the advantages of partnering with a professional medical billing company such as PMN! The combined expertise of hiring AAPC-certified coders as well as skilled billing professionals can do wonders for your revenue cycles and provides a seamless billing experience for everyone involved.
If you’d like to hear more about how PMN can transform the way your medical practice operates, contact one of their helpful staff members today by calling (949) 215-5055. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to have a face-to-face conversation, you can book a meeting at their office in Laguna Hills, Orange County, California!
How Long Does It Take To Obtain AAPC Certification?
Generally speaking, the time to obtain AAPC certification always varies depending on the specific certification sought and how well-prepared the individual is. On average, though, it usually takes several months of studying exam preparation resources to prepare for the certification exam. Furthermore, factors like prior coding experience can always influence this timeline.
Can AAPC Certification Help Attract More Patients To My Practice?
While the AAPC certification itself might not directly attract patients, it does, however indirectly contribute to the reputation and credibility of your practice. In addition, when patients see that your practice employs certified coders, it can help instill trust in the accuracy and quality of your coding, which generally reflects positively on the overall care provided.