Online Certified Professional Coder Certification Programs

An online Certified Professional Coder (CPC) program prepares students for the national American Academy of Professional Coders exam, which allows them to become certified in the medical coding field. Medical coders work in health care settings and record the medical information needed for payment from government-related and private insurance institutions. This article covers the online requirements of a remote CPC certificate program.

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Essential Information

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. Certificate course credits may transfer to an associate's degree program in coding or medical assisting, depending on the school.

Related Program Options

There are several online certificate and associate's degree programs related to professional coding. The programs below can prepare individuals for other types of certifications in fields such as medical transcription. Options include:

  • Certificate in Medical Transcription
  • Certificate in Medical Administrative Assisting
  • Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Management

Overview of an Online Certified Professional Coder (CPC) Certificate Program

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 Online 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.

Medical Terminology Course

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 Courses

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 Course

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.

Career Information for Graduates

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that medical records and health information technicians earned a median annual wage of $31,290 as of May 2009. The increase in health-related issues and resulting medical tests, procedures and treatment 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.

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