How you can (and should) keep your billing and coding skills up-to-date with medical coding CEUs (continuing education units)...
Once you have your billing and coding certification, you'll have to maintain it. This means that you have to pay an annual fee to your certifying organization (AAPC or AHIMA), and earn a specified amount of CEUs.
CEUs (Continuing Education Units) are like college credit hours. Depending on your organization and your certification, you have to earn a certain amount of CEUs in a specified time period.
This means that you'll have to continue taking classes, attending seminars, or taking advantage of online learning opportunities to keep your coding knowledge up-to-date.
Both the AAP and AHIMA offer many opportunities for continuing education units. No matter which certifying organization you choose, or which certification you get, you'll have many options for getting CEUs.
The amount of medical coding CEUs you have to get also depends on how many certifications you have. Here's a sampling of the CEU requirements from the AAPC, depending on your number of certifications:
This sounds like a lot of continuing education, but it's a necessary component of keeping you current in your field of expertise. These CEUs help keep you and your employer ahead of the game, ensuring prompt payment, correct coding practices, and most importantly, to keep you from making costly mistakes.
They help you keep your professional edge. They also allow you to demand the highest salary due to your level of professional knowledge.
Unlike college unit hours, you can earn medical coding CEUs in a number of different ways. They're not limited to online or face-to-face instruction.
For example, the AAPC gives credit hours to certified individuals who write for their monthly publication, Coding Edge. They also offer CEUs for any post-secondary college education that you receive in the health care field.
The AAPC and AHIMA may both accept each other's CEUs. For example, if you earn three CEUs at an AHIMA conference, but you are an AAPC member, you may be able to transfer your credits to the AAPC. The AAPC and AHIMA both also accept CEUs from CMS and other organizations.
Here are the different types of medical coding CEUs that you can earn from the AAPC:
Workshops: Seminars and workshops are taught by a highly qualified presenter, who authors a 4-hour long presentation on focused coding and billing topics.
One workshop may earn you as many as 6 CEUs, and costs from one to two-hundred dollars.
Webinars: Rather than a face-to-face meeting with a presenter, webinars are held online. Complete with audio and slide show, they include a much wider range of topics than workshops and seminars. They're also more cost-effective.
You can earn up to 2 CEUs per webinar. Another added bonus of webinars... the entire office can attend!
On-Demand Events: These are recordings of previous workshops and seminars. Rather than spend the time and money to travel to a workshop, on-demand events let you watch the exact same presentation from the comfort of your own office.
These events offer up to 2 CEUs per event, and cost around one hundred dollars each.
National/Regional Conferences: The largest of all coding events, national and regional conferences are annual events that gather certified coders and billers from around the country. These events last days and provide the most up-to-date and comprehensive education opportunities in all aspects of the medical industry.
They cost over three hundred dollars, and are worth 12.5 CEUs.
Code-A-Round: This CEU is an online simulation of a real-life coding event. You're presented with a potential coding dilemma and have to solve the problem with the correct codes.
These exercises are designed per specialty, offer one CEU each, and cost only around $10.
Other Low-Cost Events: There are many other opportunities for CEUs, including attending local chapter events, taking the quick tests in the back of the Coding Edge newsletter, and those offered by different organizations.
These are CEUs that you can earn from AHIMA:
Audio Seminars: You can watch either live or pre-recorded seminars. Topics range widely, and the seminars last around 90 minutes each.
E-Learning and E-Assessment: These medical coding CEU opportunities are part of AHIMA's distance education program. They vary widely and you can access them as part of online curriculum.
Conferences and Events: AHIMA holds many local and regional conferences and events, all centered on continuing education and helping people earn their CEUs.
CE Quizzes: These quizzes are a quick and easy way to get AHIMA CEUs. They're offered on a variety of topics and are as easy to access as the click of a button.
Corporate Solutions: If you're in the billing or coding business, this is the right option for you. Corporate Solutions focuses on ways to improve workflow, increase revenue, and remain in compliance.
Leadership Academy Webinars: AHIMA's leadership academy is specifically designed to help medical billers, coders, and office personnel assume the leadership role in the medical field, and take advantage of the special opportunities that we all have in the rapidly growing medical industry.
No matter which certification you get, or from whom, keeping up with your medical coding CEUs is imperative to maintaining your certification.
A solid and up-to-date knowledge base will also help you demand a higher salary and may even promote you to another level within your business. They do cost a bit, but it's a small price to pay for relevant additional knowledge and peace of mind!
Related: the important coding publications.
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