The American Health Information Management Association, known to most as AHIMA, is one of several important organizations in the medical billing and coding profession. The organization can trace its origins back to 1928. Then known as the Association of Record Librarians of North America, its task was to improve how medical records were kept. Over the years the organization has gone through several name changes to the present day, where it now boasts of 71,000 members and focuses on health information management across the broad health care and services field.
From a business and industry standpoint, AHIMA has all the bases covered. It supports health care education, has its own resource library, sponsors its own conferences, has a DC presence along with a chapter in every state, and is the offering agency for several important certifications which can be particularly important for medical billing and coding professionals:
- Certified Coding Associate – CCA
- Certified Coding Specialist – CCS
- Registered Health Information Administrator – RHIA
- Registered Health Information Technician – RHIT
With such a large slice of the market, AHIMA has a significant impact on professional medical record management across the nation. The agency also has an important relationship with federal health care programs such as Medicare. By 1970, then known as the American Medical Record Association, AHIMA’s predecessor established a strategic relationship with the newly formed Medicare program, and has adapted itself to the changes and restructuring this federal program has caused in hospitals, clinics, and other facilities where health services are provided ever since.
AHIMA is also currently positioning itself to adapt to future changes resulting from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Always striving to be the industry leader, AHIMA is currently lobbying for and encouraging the digitization of medical records. As technology continues to play an increasingly important role in everything, not least of which the medical billing and coding industry, AHIMA is aiming to establish a strong presence in digital operations.
The agency also places an emphasis on ethics, maintaining a code of such by which all members must abide.
The most recent available statistics from a 2012 AHIMA report show the organization to be in the following financial situation:
- Total asset value: $45,756,000
- Total revenue for the year: $43,339,000
- Revenue from membership dues: $6,608,000
- Revenue from exams and assessments: $6,533,000
- Revenue from meetings: $10,943,000
AHIMA does not require a membership for candidates who are taking the certification exam to become an RHIA, RHIT, CCA, or CCS, although applicants do receive a $100 discount when signing up for the CCA and CCS exam if they are members.
Memberships with AHIMA are at two levels: Active for $175 and Student for $45. Having a membership entitles its holder access to publications and information about:
- The medical record, billing, and coding industry
- Career opportunities and resources at the local level
- Discounts on products
Active members will be able to enjoy full privileges such as the ability to vote in AHIMA elections. Student members must be enrolled in a curriculum that is related to AHIMA and are not allowed to hold any AHIMA certifications.