Find an AHIMA Program in Your State

What is AHIMA?

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has served the needs of healthcare professionals for 90 years. AHIMA informs and advances health informatics and develops professional guidelines for the medical billing and coding industry. AHIMA leads the way in education and advocacy to improve care at reduced costs for healthier populations.

AHIMA works with college administrators and government officials, along with healthcare and health information professionals, to advocate for health informatics and develop resources for students and professionals. The association offers extensive resources and training opportunities, including online and in-person conferences, a print journal, an online library, and regular field updates.

AHIMA grants certifications and credentials to health informatics professionals and approves schools’ programs in the field. AHIMA also offers career planning tools, apprenticeships, mentoring programs, and merit-based scholarships.

The Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) is the accrediting body associated with AHIMA. Schools meet rigorous requirements for competencies and curricula. Students graduate prepared for employment immediately after completing AHIMA-certified programs.

How to Find an AHIMA-Certified Program in Your State

Students seeking accredited medical coding programs in their state should reference the AHIMA website. AHIMA grants professional certificate approval program (PCAP) endorsement to certain non-degree programs. AHIMA offers a PCAP directory on its website, which allows users to filter by state.

You can also find a directory of AHIMA-accredited schools that offer associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in health information management (HIM). Students can search this directory by program name, state, degree level, and delivery method. Bachelor’s degree certificate programs prepare learners for careers in HIM.

To access a full list of AHIMA-accredited online coding schools, search the directory under any state or region, select at least one degree level, and click online program delivery.

Frequently Asked Questions About AHIMA

How Does a School Become Accredited by AHIMA?

To receive AHIMA accreditation, the school must maintain regional or national accreditation with Department of Education provisions and have offered the medical coding certificate program for at least six months. Each school conducts self-assessment, applies for accreditation, and completes an independent review process.

Each school must meet curriculum standards, with courses reviewed for content, objectives, and standards. The program must also include a professional practice experience. After completing the review, a committee assesses the study and reviewer recommendations and makes a final decision to award accreditation. AHIMA reviews schools annually to uphold their standards.

What is a CEU?

The internationally recognized system of continuing education units (CEUs) ensures that professionals stay current in their education and institutions continue to meet program standards. Schools generally calculate CEUs as one unit equalling 10 education hours. Many certified professionals must complete CEUs annually through accredited continuing education courses.

Joining a professional association offers access to continuing education opportunities. Professional associations also update members on the number of required CEUs each year. Association membership is not required to complete CEUs.

Is AHIMA the Only Accrediting Agency for Medical Billing and Coding Programs?

AHIMA is not the only accrediting agency for medical billing and coding programs, although it is the only agency that accredits full degrees. AHIMA reviews and approves an institution’s curriculum, allowing for unique programs that meet stringent standards. All of the institutions that offer AHIMA-approved coding programs hold regional accreditation.

How Much Does it Cost to Sit for the CCS Exam?

AHIMA certification opportunities maintain different costs, depending on the specific credential. Individuals interested in taking the certified coding specialist (CCS) exam can anticipate different price points depending on their AHIMA membership status. Non-members should expect to pay around $400 for their exam fee, while members pay about $300, and premier members pay $285.

AHIMA also offers the certified coding specialist physician-based (CCS-P) exam, with the same associated costs as the CCS exam. Additionally, its certified coding assistant (CCA) exam costs about $190 for premier members, $200 for members, and around $300 for non-members.

What is the CCHIIM?

The Commission on Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management (CCHIIM) develops certification standards and procedures. CCHIIM, an independent authority within AHIMA, oversees certification and recertification programs. The commission serves healthcare consumers by ensuring the evidence-based competency and professional development of health informatics and information management (HIIM) professionals.

The commission leadership consists of a chair, a chair-elect, a past-chair, and 12 commissioners. These commissioners must meet experience and leadership requirements, maintain AHIMA certification, and work within the HIIM profession.

Why Get an AHIMA Credential?

The medical billing and coding field holds AHIMA certification in high regard. Obtaining credentials from AHIMA-approved schools certifies you as a professional whose knowledge meets strict, industry-recognized standards. An AHIMA coding certification provides an additional advantage in achieving your career goals and offers a route to specialization. AHIMA credentials may also increase earning potential and career mobility.

Individuals can take many different paths to earn AHIMA certification. Professionals who do not wish to pursue degrees in HIM can earn an AHIMA medical coding certification that meets the same standards as those earned by degree-seeking students. Individuals with AHIMA certification join a respected community of professionals and demonstrate their commitment to maintaining excellent standards and knowledge in the field.

Types of AHIMA Certifications

HIM and Coding Certifications

  • Registered Health Information Administrator: RHIA certification, which focuses on managing operational units and people, makes an important connection between care providers, patients, and payers. Certified professionals can apply patient data in everyday operations and decision-making at every level within organizations. An eligible candidate must hold a bachelor’s degree from an HIM program accredited by CAHIIM.

  • Registered Health Information Technician: An applicant who holds a CAHIIM-accredited associate degree or candidates who have completed HIM programs approved by foreign associations that hold a reciprocity agreement with AHIMA can pursue RHIT certification. These professionals maintain the quality of medical records by verifying their accuracy and completeness.

  • Certified Coding Associate: The CCA credential allows professionals to demonstrate their commitment to the coding profession and exhibit their competencies and professional capabilities to employers. An eligible candidate holds a high school diploma and has completed at least six months of professional coding experience. Additionally, they should complete an AHIMA-approved coding program or a coding training program focused on medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology.

  • Certified Coding Specialist: Candidates can meet the requirements for the CCS credential in several ways. They can apply if they hold the RHIA, RHIT, or CCS-P credentials. Students who have completed courses in intermediate/advanced ICD diagnostic/procedural and CPT coding, reimbursement methodology, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology may also apply.

    They can also apply if they hold two years of coding experience, a coding credential from another certifying organization with one year of experience, or the CCA credential with one year of experience. Certified individuals review patient records and assign numeric codes for procedures and diagnoses.

  • Certified Coding Specialist- Physician-based: Applicants eligible for the CCS-P credential should either hold the RHIA, RHIT, or CCS credential or complete specific coursework relevant to the certification area. Eligible candidates can also apply if they complete at least two years of coding experience, hold a coding credential along with one year of experience, or hold the CCA credential with one year of experience. CCS-P-certified professionals specialize in physician-based settings assigning numeric codes for each diagnosis and procedure.

Specialty Certifications

  • Certified Documentation Improvement Practitioner: CDIP-certified professionals boast knowledge of high-quality clinical documentation within patient health records and act as leaders in HIIM communities. To sit for the certification exam, eligible candidates must hold an RHIA, RIT, CCS, or CCS-P credential (among others) and possess two years of related experience. An individual with an associate degree or higher with three years of relevant professional experience may also apply.

  • Certified Health Data Analyst: The CHDA credential helps to facilitate professional development, achieve recognition for expertise, and demonstrates commitment and professionalism in health data analysis. An eligible candidate should hold the RHIT credential or a bachelor’s degree with three years of experience, the RHIA credential, or a master’s degree in an HIM-related discipline.

  • Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security: An individual can apply for the CHPS credential if they hold an associate degree with six years of experience in an HIM discipline. They can also apply if they possess the RHIT credential, a bachelor’s degree with four years of experience, or the RHIA credential or master’s degree with two years of experience. This credential demonstrates competencies in designing, administering, and implementing security and privacy protection programs across healthcare organizations.

AHIMA Recertification Requirements

AHIMA recertification ensures that certified professionals constantly evolve in the field and stay current on processes and procedures. To become recertified, professionals must satisfy CEUs during each two-year certification cycle.

Professionals must complete 80% of CEUs in an HIIM-related field, with the remaining 20% still related to the credential-holder’s specific occupation. Readers can learn more about recertification on the AHIMA website.