Application Dates

Applications open now through August 1st for a Fall 2021 start.

Application restrictions may apply for online students living in certain states. Click here to verify that your state authorizes online programs at Loma Linda University.

SIGN UP FOR MORE INFORMATION

Coding Specialist Program PCAP Approved

Healthcare facilities need medical coders for accurately assessing ICD-10-CM/PCS, CPT, and DRG/APC assignments for diagnostic and surgical information. Financial reimbursement is often directly related to these numeric codes. Also, the statistical information generated from the codes is used in support of research, quality patient care, education, and administrative decision making.

The Coding Specialist Program is a five-quarter online program with courses covering healthcare records management, ICD-10-CM/PCS, CPT, E&M coding, prospective payment systems, state and federal coding regulations, and hands-on coding practicum courses. The program is meant to help prepare students for the workforce, as well as for certification from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) as a Certified Coding Associate (CCA) or Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) and the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) certification from the American Association for Professional Coders (AAPC).

Quick Facts

15
months to completion
$199
tuition cost per unit
120
hours of coding practicum

Program Mission

In harmony with the mission of Loma Linda University and the School of Allied Health Professions, the Health Informatics, Information Management, and Administration department is dedicated to:

  • Educating competent medical coding professionals
  • Promoting the medical coding profession
  • Extending the current knowledge of medical coding professionals at neighboring health care facilities
  • Challenging students and department faculty to maintain high standards of ethical and professional behavior
  • Encouraging students and faculty to seek a meaningful relationship with God and a balanced Christian lifestyle

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Assess health record documentation to verify that it is accurate, timely, and complete and that it supports the diagnosis and other clinical findings.
  2. Determine the appropriate medical codes for healthcare encounters with accuracy and consistency according to official guidelines.
  3. Adhere to the format, organization, and mechanical conventions of the ICD-10-CM/PCS, CPT, E&M, and HCPCS coding systems.
  4. Facilitate health data collection and processing through coding, indexing, and maintaining disease and operation statistics.
  5. Assess compliance with regulatory requirements and reimbursement methodologies. 
  6. Perform diagnostic-related group and ambulatory patient-classification assignments using decision trees and computerized patient-data groupers.
  7. Develop appropriate physician queries to resolve discrepancies in clinical documentation and coding.

Job Opportunities and Earnings

Coding Specialists are in demand in acute care and ambulatory care facilities, including physician office practice and long-term facilities. A variety of government agencies require coding expertise as well. The need for accurate, skilled coders is high throughout the nation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the field of health information technicians, which includes medical coders, is projected to grow 8% through 2029, which is notably greater than the national average (www.bls.gov).

Salaries for medical coders vary across organizations, healthcare settings, as well as the level of work experience. However, in 2016 AHIMA reported the national salary averages for individuals with 0-2 years of experience and a CCA credential and individuals with 0-2 years of experience and a CCS credential as $39,320 and $50,490, respectively (www.ahima.org). Salary averages for California are also consistently higher than the national average.

Practical Experience

Direct coding practice with health records will be facilitated throughout the program, in which the student will learn how to assign codes using strictly the codebooks, as well as gain necessary exposure to and familiarity with the encoder system. Two coding practicum courses are built into the curriculum to provide the student the opportunity of coding inpatient and outpatient health records with a variety of common diseases and surgical procedures for a minimum of 120 hours. This practical experience will be coordinated by an experienced instructor who will supervise and evaluate the students’ work, answer questions, and provide corrective feedback to the students. Practicum courses will require students to regularly meet online synchronously with the instructor to better facilitate this process and to ensure students are confident in their medical coding skills. 

Admission Requirements and Prerequisites

  1. High school diploma/GED or a college degree
  2. Completion of the following prerequisite courses with a grade of “C” or better.
    • Anatomy and Physiology
    • Medical Terminology (may be taken while in the program)
  3. Completion and submission of the LLU application at www.llu.edu/apply by August 1st for consideration to begin in the Fall.
  4. Interview, if deemed necessary.

Application to and enrollment in Loma Linda University constitute the student’s commitment to honor and abide by the academic and social practices and regulations stated in announcements, bulletins, handbooks, and other published materials, and to maintain a manner that is mature and compatible with the University’s function as an institution of higher learning.

Ryan Stephan

Ryan Stephan

Program Director: Coding Specialist Certificate – Online

Email: rstephan@llu.edu