This blog was written by Doris Dickey, the National AAHAM CRCS Certification Chair and member of the Illinois AAHAM Chapter.
You know you want to make an investment in your career by obtaining an AAHAM certification, but which one? You can’t decide where to start?
First, think about where you are and where you want to go in the business of healthcare revenue cycle.
Are you an individual who always wanted to work in healthcare, but have no experience? Or you’ve been working in the billing office for a while and feel you have a strong knowledge of billing, your co-workers come to you first with questions. Now you want to be credentialed to show your expertise. Perhaps there are billing levels at your organization and you want to be prepared for the Lead Billing Position the next time it opens. In these situations, I’d recommend the CRCS/Certified Revenue Cycle Specialist. You could choose to pursue the Professional (1500 billing) or the Technical (UB04) or both. This level of certification will give you immense recognition among your peers.
Perhaps, you want to go deeper in meeting the compliance requirements of healthcare. You might even be a direct patient care person, who wants to learn more about the business and revenue cycle responsibilities of healthcare. The CCT/Certified Compliance Technician may be your next step. Generally the applicant for this level has some healthcare experience in billing, Health Information Management, or front line supervision. For the preparation of this certification, you will need to study regulations related to Fraud and Abuse, Billing Practices and Security and Privacy. To successfully earn this certification, you will need the ability to memorize laws, regulations, dates, etc. If your position involves writing policies, this study course will help you understand why certain procedures and policies are in place. This is a great place to not only start, but also a good “Add-On” to any other level. There is only one CCT exam, as the same regulations apply to both technical and professional individuals.
Moving up the career ladder we come to the CRIP/Certified Revenue Integrity Professional. This exam covers four sections of the revenue cycle (Charge capture, ancillary services, surgical services, and recurring outpatients and clinical services). Hands on working experience in the healthcare revenue cycle would be the best preparation for this level. But, working experience in itself is not sufficient. Again, there is a certain level of memory requirements at this level like the CCT . The examinee at this level should have some knowledge in the complete revenue cycle. The applicant understands the revenue cycle is more than billing and collections. This study course will touch on the integrity of patient care and the billing cycle with emphasis on sending out bills that support the ervice to the patient. This applicant should have some knowledge of bundling and unbundling billing practices.
Next we are going to discuss the CRCP/Certified Revenue Cycle Professional. Like the CRCS, this applicant can test for Institution (hospital or healthcare system), the Professional (clinic), or both. At this point the applicant needs at least two years’ experience in healthcare or a two year degree. This level is designed specifically for managers and supervisors working in the revenue cycle arena. For central business office individuals who manage both hospital billing and physician level, I’d strongly recommend dual testing (both “P” and “I”) Applicants should have some management knowledge of all aspect of the revenue cycle. This certification is designed for individuals who desire recognition of their expertise as they move up the career ladder in health care management. The test is four hours long and will involve commitment in preparation.
The most elite of AAHAM’s certification opportunities is the CRCE/Certified Revenue Cycle Executive.
This exam is intended for senior and executive leaders of the entire revenue cycle. At this level you are committed to an eight hour exam. Applicants must have four years of experience. A two year degree can be substituted for two years of experience. The applicant with critical thinking and communication skills will be most qualified. The study preparation for CRCE may also include study material you would find on line. I have frequently recommended every Patient Financial Services Executive should keep the study manual as a reference manual whether he/she is certified or not. This exam is the highest level of AAHAM’s certification ladder. If the applicant has minimal healthcare experience, it will be difficult to obtain this recognition. I personally, know some CRCE’s whose only experience in healthcare is on the vendor side. The individual who can pass this exam without working experience in the revenue cycle is to be admired. This certification will help you receive recognition, demonstrate proficiency and serve as a role model in the industry. Firsthand experience, memory, problem solving, experience with staff issues and management analysis and problem solving are all tools in preparing for this exam. Individuals in the revenue cycle of healthcare who obtain this level of certification are recognized as a CPA would be recognized in the finance world.
More information on the levels and the exam itself can be found on the AAHAM website. Review each level and see which best prepares you for your goal in healthcare. The self-satisfaction and confidence that you accomplish with certification is unmeasurable. Contact your local chapter or the national office of AAHAM to get started today. Good Luck!