Online medical coding certificate programs are available that specifically prepare students for Certified Professional Coder certification. These programs offer courses that ready graduates for both ICD-9 and CPT coding jobs. Although courses are provided remotely, some programs include an internship in a health care setting in the student's local area to gain practical skills. Specific word processing software may be required. Certificate course credits may transfer to an associate's degree program in coding or medical assisting, depending on the school.
Certified Professional Coder (CPC) Certificate
Online CPC certificate programs teach students how to analyze medical information and assign codes according to the medical standards. Participants also learn skills in organizing records and insurance data, reporting information and communicating with health care professionals. There are typically no prerequisites to enroll in the certificate program; however, a background in the medical field is helpful.
Program Information and Requirements
Depending on the school, these programs consist of a minimum of six courses, and they can require up to 35 hours of college credit when taken in pursuit of a certificate. Online programs are delivered via the Internet, and some schools use a special course management system (CMS), such as Moodle, to deliver course materials to distance learners.
Students also need access to an e-mail account for communication with instructors and peers. A specific word processing program may also be required for submitting assignments. Most schools provide a technical support system to help students with any issues via e-mail, chat or phone.
List of Common Professional Coder Courses
The coursework in a CPC certificate program focuses on the medical coding specialty and includes classes in coding, billing, reimbursement and medical terminology. Biology and basic medical science courses may also be a part of the curriculum.
This class concentrates on the spelling, definitions, pronunciation, roots and suffixes related to terms used in medicine. Students gain knowledge in medical vocabulary and skills in communicating effectively with health care professionals.
Introductory, Intermediate and Advanced Medical Coding
These classes introduce coding procedures and outcomes for successful reimbursement using current classification guidelines and systems. Human anatomy, physiology and clinical statements are also emphasized in relation to specific guidelines in medical coding.
Medical Billing and Reimbursement
The methods used to ensure payment in processing medical claims are the concentration of this class. The course also emphasizes knowledge of insurance provider requirements, regulations, auditing, Medicare billing, patient records and forms related to coding and reimbursement.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that medical records and health information technicians earned a median annual wage of $37,110 as of May 2015. The increase in health-related issues and resulting medical tests, procedures and treatments performed was expected to provide increasing employment opportunities in the field (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Upon completion of the certificate program, graduates are eligible to sit for the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) exam to gain CPC status. Medical coders desiring to advance further in the field can pursue advanced specialty certification through the AAPC and Professional Association of Health Care Coding Specialists (PAHCS). Experience, rigorous testing and additional education are normal requirements for advanced designations through both organizations. Medical coding specialists can also pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees in different areas in health care, such as health care administration, depending on their personal career goals.
Online certificate programs in medical coding train students to interpret and translate medical information, records and insurance details into codes. Students must be present for internships.