American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA)

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is the premier organization in the world for health information management, coding, health data analysis, and healthcare privacy and security professionals. Those with an AHIMA certification have greater earning potential, more opportunity for career advancement, and a broader professional network than those without AHIMA certification.

AHIMA offers the following seven certification examinations for health information management professionals:

Certifications for health information management professionals:

1. Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)
2. Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)

Certifications for coding professionals:

3. Certified Coding Associate (CCA)
4. Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)
5. Certified Coding Specialist, Physician-based (CCS-P)

Certification examinations for health data analysis and healthcare privacy and security professionals:

6. Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA)
7. Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security (CHPS)

Certifications for health information management professionals

1. The Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) works with healthcare providers, patients, and insurance companies to manage patient health information and medical records. To sit for the RHIA certification examination, a bachelor’s degree is required in a health information management program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). A list of CAHIIM-accredited schools is available on AHIMA’s website at www.ahima.org. Students in their last term of study are eligible to sit for the examination. Examination content covers the following categories:

Health data management: 20 percent
Health statistics and research support: 11 percent
Information technology and systems: 20 percent
Organization and management: 30 percent
Privacy, security, and confidentiality: 13 percent
Legal and regulatory standards: 6 percent

2. The Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) ensures that medical records are fully and accurately entered into the medical center’s computer system. An associate degree program, accredited by CAHIIM (the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education) is necessary to sit for the RHIT certification examination. Examination content covers the following categories:

Health data management: 30 percent
• Health data structure, content, and standards
• Healthcare information requirements and standards
• Clinical classification systems
• Reimbursement methodologies

Health statistics, biomedical research, and quality management: 13 percent
• Healthcare statistics
• Research and quality assessment
• Performance improvement

Health services organization and delivery: 17 percent
• Healthcare delivery systems and healthcare compliance
• Confidentiality
• Ethical, legal, and privacy issues

Information technology and systems: 25 percent
• Information and communication technologies
• Data, storage, and retrieval
• Data security
• Health information systems

Organizational resources: 15 percent
• Human resources
• Financial and physical resources

Certifications for coding professionals

3. The Certified Coding Associate (CCA) is equally proficient in coding at hospitals and at physician’s offices. The CCA is the only health information management designation that is recognized by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). A high school diploma or the GED equivalent is required for anyone wishing to take the CCA examination. It is strongly recommended that, prior to taking the examination, the candidate have at least six months of formal coding experience, or have completed a coding certificate program or other formal coding training program. Examination content covers the following categories:

Health records and data content: 20 percent
Health information requirements and standards: 14 percent
Clinical classification systems: 36 percent
Reimbursement methodologies: 10 percent
Information and communication technologies: 6 percent
Privacy, confidentiality, legal, and ethical issues: 14 percent

4. The Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) is generally proficient at coding patient records in a hospital setting. Those with experience in coding inpatient and outpatient records should consider obtaining this credential. CCS examination candidates must have earned a high school diploma or the GED equivalent prior to taking the examination. Although not required, it is strongly recommended that those wishing to obtain this certification have at least three years of on-the-job experience in the following:

  • Hospital-based inpatient coding for multiple case types (circulatory, pregnancy, musculoskeletal, respiratory, immunity disorders, etc.)
    Hospital-based outpatient coding for multiple case types (eye, cardiac catheter, pain management, interventional radiology, etc.)
    Completed coursework or otherwise demonstrated proficiency in the areas of anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology.

Examination content covers the following categories:
Health information documentation: 15 percent
Diagnosis coding: 20 percent
Procedure coding: 20 percent
Regulatory guidelines and reporting requirements for inpatient services: 10 percent
Regulatory guidelines and reporting requirements for outpatient services: 10 percent
Data quality and management: 8 percent
Information and communication technologies: 5 percent
Privacy, confidentiality, legal, and ethical issues: 6 percent
Compliance: 6 percent

5. The Certified Coding Specialist, Physician-based (CCS-P) has mastered coding for physician-based settings, such as a doctor’s office, a group practice, or a specialty center. This coding specialist reviews patient records and assigns numeric codes for each diagnosis and procedure. CCS-P examination candidates must hold a high school diploma or the GED equivalent prior to taking the examination. In addition, it is strongly recommended that the candidate have three years of on-the-job experience in the following:

  • Used coding appropriately for physician services in multiple settings, such as a hospital, an emergency room, an operating room, and a doctor’s office.
  • Completed coursework or otherwise demonstrated proficiency in the areas of anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, and pharmacology.

Examination content covers the following categories:
Health information documentation: 18 percent
Diagnosis coding: 24 percent
CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) and HCPCS-II (Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System-Level 2) coding: 24 percent
Reimbursement: 8 percent
Data quality and analysis: 10 percent
Information and communication technologies: 6 percent
Compliance and regulatory issues: 10 percent

Certifications for health data analysis and healthcare privacy and security professionals

6. The Certified Health Data Analyst (CHDA) can translate large volumes of data into information that is concise and easy to understand for both individuals and groups of varying knowledge and expertise levels. Candidates must meet one of the following criteria prior to sitting for the CHDA examination:

  • A bachelor’s degree or higher and a minimum of five years of healthcare data experience,
    or
  • The RHIA (Registered Health Information Administrator) credential and a minimum of one year experience in healthcare data.

The data management portion of the examination will require completion of the following tasks:
32 percent

  • Assist in the development and maintenance of the data architecture and model to provide a foundation for database design that supports a healthcare business’s needs.
    Establish uniform definitions of data captured in source systems to create a reference tool to be used as a data dictionary.
    Formulate validation strategies and methods to ensure the accuracy and reliability of data.
    Evaluate existing data structures using data tables and field mapping to develop specifications that produce accurate and properly reported data.
    Integrate data from internal or external sources in order to provide data for analysis and/or reporting.
    Facilitate the update and maintenance of tables for an organization’s information systems in order to ensure the quality and accuracy of the data.

The data analytics portion of the examination will require completion of the following tasks:
37 percent

  • Analyze health data using appropriate testing methods to generate findings for interpretation.
    Interpret analytical findings by formulating for clinical, financial, and operational processes.
  • Validate results through qualitative and quantitative analyses.

The data reporting portion of the examination will require completion of the following tasks:
31 percent

  • Design metrics and criteria to meet the end user’s needs through the collection and interpretation of data.
  • Generate routine and ad-hoc reports using internal and external data sources to complete data requests.
  • Present information in a concise and user-friendly format by determining target audience needs.
  • Provide recommendations based on analytical results in order to improve business processes and outcomes.

7. Certified in Healthcare Privacy and Security (CHPS) signals a competence and ability to administer privacy and security programs in all types of healthcare organizations. CHPS candidates must meet one of the following requirements in order to qualify to sit for the examination:

  • A bachelor’s degree and a minimum of four years experience in healthcare management,
    or
  • A master’s degree or higher and a minimum of two years experience in healthcare management,
    or
  • An RHIA (Registered Health Information Administrator), or an RHIT (Registered Health Information Technician) credential with a bachelor’s degree or higher and a minimum of two years experience in healthcare management.

Examination content can be broken down into the following subject areas:
Management and administration: 20 percent
Regulatory requirements, investigation, and compliance: 23 percent
Information technology: 25 percent
Physical safeguards: 8 percent
Health information management: 24 percent

 

Last Updated: June 27, 2019