What is the CCA Credential?

Posted on January 13, 2016 I Written By

Erin Head is the Director of Health Information Management (HIM) and Quality for an acute care hospital in Titusville, FL. She is a renowned speaker on a variety of healthcare and social media topics and currently serves as CCHIIM Commissioner for AHIMA. She is heavily involved in many HIM and HIT initiatives such as information governance, health data analytics, and ICD-10 advocacy. She is active on social media on Twitter @ErinHead_HIM and LinkedIn. Subscribe to Erin's latest HIM Scene posts here.

There comes a point in an aspiring coder’s life when they are ready to earn a credential but might not have coding experience yet. This is when the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) credential comes in to play to provide the opportunity to prove the credential holder’s coding knowledge and competencies. The CCA credentialing exam is administered by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and is one of three specific coding credentials offered by AHIMA. The other coding credentials through AHIMA are the Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and the Certified Coding Specialist- Physician based (CCS-P).

The CCA exam is offered to anyone with at least a high school diploma interested in coding. The content of the exam includes clinical classification systems, reimbursement methodologies, health records and data content, compliance, information technologies, and confidentiality and privacy (source: AHIMA). The largest portion of  questions on the exam covers the clinical classification systems which includes assigning codes and applying coding guidelines. Candidates prove they are able to apply coding methodologies for all levels of care including inpatient hospitals and physician offices.

The CCA credential is ideal for HIM and Coding students or new HIM professionals who are eager to earn a credential to add to their resume. While this credential proves competencies in the key coding domains, someone with this credential may not be qualified for a seasoned coder job posting which will typically require years of coding experience. However, the benefit of having this credential is that it shows the hiring manager that the applicant has had enough education and exposure to coding to be able to pass a thorough credentialing exam on the subject. Many students take this exam while completing coursework for HIM and Coding degrees to prepare themselves for the job market.

Medical coding is a career in high demand and has been recognized as a very important role in healthcare. Anyone interested in launching a career in coding will have to learn the ropes from the ground up. It is appropriate for CCA credentialed coders to look for entry level coding positions that will develop their coding skills and potentially lead to further specialization in the HIM field.

For more information on the CCA credential, see the AHIMA website.

Access additional resources for HIM credentials here: CCS, RHIA, RHIT.

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