Medical Information Tests Guide

Medical Information Tests Summary
What: Certification exams for health information professionals
Who: Test candidates include those working in health information who have the appropriate education requirements.
Where: Prometric Test Centers located throughout the country
When: Year round
How: All tests are computer based.
Type: Multiple-choice and/or coding
Why: The exams are required for professional certification.
Time: Exam times range from two to four hours.
Language: English
Preparation: Candidates can prepare by reviewing medical terminology and coding systems.
Cost: Test fees range from $199 to $399.

By: Erin Hasinger, Tests.com


The management of health and medical-related information is a key component of the health care industry as it helps to facilitate decision making and patient care. The health care professionals who manage such information, including health information administrators, health information technicians and coders, can pursue professional certification. Certification is granted to candidates who meet education requirements and pass a certification exam. Certification is a way for professional medical information managers to demonstrate to employers and peers their commitment to their line of work. Certification may help one find a job or earn a promotion or pay raise.


Through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), a professional membership association for those who work in health information management, the Commission on Certification for Health Informatics and Information Management (CCHIIM) offers certification programs for health information management professionals.


AHIMA and CCHIIM offer numerous certification programs, including:


-    Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)

-    Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)

-    Certified Coding Associate (CCA)

-    Certified Coding Specialist (CCS)

-    Certified Coding Specialist—Physician-based (CCS-P)


Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA)


Registered health information administrators, or RHIAs, collect and analyze patient data, oversee computer information systems and manage patient records and health information. An RHIA may provide oversight to a unit or administrative committee and manage other employees. RHIAs work in hospitals, doctors’ offices and other medical facilities, as well as for insurance and pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and consulting firms.


Eligibility requirements for certification include a bachelor’s degree from a health information management program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM) or a foreign-associated program that has a reciprocity agreement with AHIMA. Students in their final semester of a health information management program also may apply for certification.


The exam fee is $229 for members of AHIMA and $299 for non-members. The RHIA exam includes 180 multiple-choice questions that must be answered within four hours.


Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT)


Registered health information technicians, or RHITs, work with medical records to ensure quality, including making sure the records are complete, accurate and properly recorded in the computer system. RHITs, with experience, may be promoted into management roles, such as in health information administration.


Candidates must have an associate’s degree from a CAHIIM-accredited program (or a foreign program with AHIMI reciprocity) in health information management to be considered eligible for the RHIT certification. The exam includes 150 multiple-choice questions. Three-and-a-half hours are given. The exam fee is $229 for AHIMA members and $299 for non-members.


Certified Coding Associate (CCA), Coding Specialist (CCS) and Coding Specialist—Physician-based (CCS-P)


Certified coding associates, specialists and physician-based specialists work with medical records to assign numeric codes from coding systems such as ICD-9-CM and CPT to patient diagnoses and procedures. Certified coding associate is the professional designation for entry- and mid-level coders, while certified coding specialist (CCS) is a credential that can be earned by coders at the mastery-level who, in addition to having a thorough understanding of coding systems, also are familiar with medical terminology, pharmacology and disease processes.


The certified coding specialist—physician-based (CCS-P) designation is specifically for master-level coders who have developed expertise with coding in physician-based settings. In addition to knowing ICD-9-CM and CPT coding systems, the CCS-P should also be familiar with HCPCS Level II coding system.


The CCA exam includes 100 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within two hours. The CCS exam has two parts – 60 multiple-choice questions and 13 medical records that are to be coded. Similarly, the CCS-P exam has one part that includes 60 multiple choice questions and a second part with 16 medical records to be coded. Four hours are given for both exams.

All coding certification candidates must have a high school diploma. Professional experience is not required, but six months for CCA candidates is recommended, as is three years for CCS and CCS-P candidates.

The CCA exam fee is $199 for members of AHIMA and $299 for non-members. Exam fees for CCS and CCS-P are $299 for members and $399 for non-members.


Candidates for all exams can register online at www.ahima.org. Paper applications are also available for download from the website. All exams are hosted at Prometric Test Centers, which can be found throughout the US. Once a certification candidate’s application to test has been approved, they will receive an Authorization to Test letter which will include detailed instructions on scheduling the exam with a Prometric Test Center and also include information on what materials are permitted, such as code books.


For more information on health and medical information certification exams, please see the Medical Information Test Directory.

Source: AHIMA