The CCS-P certification exam and the CPC certification exam are not created equal. These test/certifications have a lot of similarities but they have equally as many differences.
CCS-P is Certified Coding Specialist-Physician based. This is an AHIMA credential therefore it is a Health Information Management Credential.
CPC is Certified Professional Coder. This credential is offered through AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders). CPC is considered the gold standard. It is a prerequisite to working in coding. Most hospitals and clinics won’t even consider you without this credential. CPC is recognized more often than the CCS-P depending on where you live.
CCS-P and CPC are similar in that they both will allow you to work in a Physician’s office. Both credentials will allow you to code outpatient records (Emergency department, ASC (Ambulatory Surgery Center), Provider’s office). CPC and CCS-P both require the use of a CPT code book, ICD-10 code book and HCPCS code book.
Both exams require mastery coding skills however both credentials are for entry level coding positions.
“The CCS-P is also an expert in health information documentation, data integrity, and quality (AHIMA, 2018).”
The CCS-P exam is broken into domains:
DOMAIN 1 Health Information Documentation (8–12%)
DOMAIN 2 Diagnosis and/or Procedure Coding (60–64%)
DOMAIN 3 Regulatory Guidelines and Reporting Requirements for Outpatient Services (8–12%)
DOMAIN 4 Data Quality and Management (5–7%)
DOMAIN 5 Information and Communication Technologies (2–4%)
DOMAIN 6 Privacy, Confidentiality, Legal, and Ethical Issues (4–6%)
DOMAIN 7 Compliance (3–5%)
The CPC covers:
10000 Series 10 Questions
20000 Series 10 Questions
30000 Series 10 Questions
40000 Series 10 Questions
50000 Series 10 Questions
60000 Series 10 Questions
Evaluation and Management 10 Questions
Anesthesia 8 Questions
Radiology 10 Questions
Laboratory and Pathology 10 Questions
Medicine 10 Questions
Medical Terminology 8 Questions
Anatomy 8 questions
ICD-10-CM 10 Questions
HCPCS Level II 5 Questions
Coding Guidelines 6 Questions
Compliance and Regulatory
For more information go to https://www.aapc.com/certification/cpc/
CCS-P is a 4 hour exam. CPC is a 5 hour 40 minute exam. CPC is 150 questions. CCS-P is 97 multiple choice and 8 medical scenarios.
A few other differences is the cost. The CPC is $380. You have to be a member of AAPC if you want to take the exam. The CCS-P is $299 if you are a member of AHIMA and $399 if you are not.
So how do you know which one to take? Well it depends. If you completed an HIM (Health Information Management) degree then CCS-P is the obvious choice. However, if you graduated with a Certificate or diploma with a concentration in Medical Coding and Billing then CPC would be where you should start.
CCS-P and CPC are both great credentials to have. Based on the above criteria you can determine what is best for your needs. I have both credentials but I don’t have an HIM degree. I really had to study to pass this exam on the first time. At least one of these credentials should be on your to-do list if not both. These credentials say you have Mastery level Coding. These exams are tough but well worth the effort.