Difference Between AHIMA and AAPC

Medical coders help medical facilities of all sizes keep track of their patients’ information and submit claims for payment. Medical coders can operate in a wide range of locations, including hospitals, clinics, and corporate offices.

It’s a responsible job, and employers are hesitant to recruit inexperienced coders unless they can show that they’ve done their homework.

One method to do this is through professional certificates. The AHIMA and AAPC are the two most well-known certification organizations. 


The main difference between AHIMA and AAPC is that AHIMA is more popular for their Certified Coding Specialist course whereas AAPC is more popular for their Certified Professional Coder course. AHIMA was founded in 1928 and AAPC was founded in 1988 which makes AHIMA an older and more established organization.


The American Health Information Association is abbreviated as AHIMA. They have about a half-dozen qualifications, with the majority of them focusing on coding and health information management.

Certified Coding Specialist is the most common AHIMA accreditation (CCS). They were founded in 1928 and their main emphasis is on inpatient facilities.

The American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC) is a professional coding organization. They provide over a dozen distinct medical coding certifications for various hospitals and specialties.

Medical billing, auditing, documentation, compliance, and practice management certificates are also available. Certified Professional Coder is the most popular AAPC credential (CPC). 

Comparison Table Between AHIMA and AAPC 

Parameters of Comparison AHIMA AAPC 
Full-Form American Health Information Management Association American Academy of Professional Coders 
Types of Certifications Medical coding, health care privacy and security, health information management, etc. Compliance, coding, auditing, etc. 
Well-Known for Inpatient facilities Outpatient facilities. 
Preferred Career Advancement Administration Medical specialty. 
Founded in 1928 1988 
Most Popular Credential Certified Coding Specialist Certified Professional Coder 

What is AHIMA? 

The American College of Surgeons founded AHIMA in 1928. It stands for American Health Information Management Association.

It was known as the Association of Record Librarians of North American back then. Its goal was to improve patient care by establishing clear medical record-keeping guidelines. 

The American Health Information Management Association now also offers certification tests for medical coders and health information managers.

The Certified Coding Associate, or CCA, is the foundational certificate for new coders who have completed a training program or spent at least six months coding. 

A combination of the CCA or another organization’s credentials and one year of professional coding is required for the Certified Coding Specialist certification. 

AHIMA also offers another, fairly popular course known as the Certified Coding Specialist-Physician-based (CCS-P) certification, which is a highly sought-after credential.

A medical coder who has earned this certification has demonstrated mastery-level understanding of outpatient coding, allowing them to operate in a range of settings such as specialty clinics, doctors’ offices, and hospitals,

This medical information association is made up of various organizations including a House of Delegates, and its various subsidiaries.

Each of these organizations is led by the AHIMA Board of Directors, which is made up of 13 members who are elected each year by AHIMA members.

What is AAPC? 

The American Association of Professional Coders was founded in 1988 with the goal of certifying and credentialing coders who work in doctors’ offices.

It has now expanded its qualifications to include certificates in hospital-based coding, payer-based coding, medical auditing, and a variety of other sub-specialties. 

Candidates for the AAPC’s Certified Coding Professional credentials must have at least two years of experience in the industry, and an associate degree in medical coding or health information management is recommended but not required.

Candidates who pass the certification exam but lack the required experience obtain the title of apprentice, and after two years of work experience, they become fully certified. 

The AAPC primarily awards the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) designation. The CPC-A “apprentice” credential is earned after passing the CPC certification exam.

To earn the full CPC credential, you’ll need this temporary credential and a year of medical coding experience. 

The National Advisory Board, the Legal Advisory Committee, the medical Coding Physician Advisory Board, and the Local Chapter Association Board of Directors are the four organizations that make up this medical coding association.

All of these committees are in charge of overseeing the association’s financial and jurisprudential aims and objectives for their respective divisions.  

Main Differences Between AHIMA and AAPC 

  1. AHIMA stands for American Health Information Management Association and AAPC stands for American Academy of Professional Coders. 
  2. The types of certifications offered by AHIMA are medical coding, health care privacy and security, health information management, etc. And the certifications offered by AAPC focus of compliance, coding, auditing, etc. 
  3. AHIMA is well known for their inpatient facilities whereas AAPC is more wll known for their outpatient facilities. 
  4. The most preferred career advancement offered by AHIMA’s certifications are in administration. On the other hand, the most preferred career advancement offered by AAPC is in medical specialty. 
  5. AHIMA was founded in 1928 and AAPC was founded in 1988. 
  6. The most popular credential offered by AHIMA is the Certified Coding Specialist certification and the most popular credential offered by AAPC is the Certified Professional Coder certification. 


The AHIMA was formed in 1928 and has offered CCA, CCS, RHIA, and RHIT certificates since then. These qualifications, known as CCS, are aimed at demonstrating mastery of in- and out-patient coding.

The AHIMA also offers certificates in the field of records management.  

AAPC offers qualifications for future outpatient medical coders. They have been the primary provider of CPC credentials since 1988.

These credentials certify a medical coder to deal with various things like outpatient claims, physician services, adjudicate physician claims, etc.

There are numerous little distinctions between the organizations, but the most major differences are in the types of employment for which they prepare you. 

Both organizations used to specialize in inpatient and outpatient programs, but they now offer both.

Outpatient services have traditionally been connected with AAPC classification, while inpatient facilities have traditionally been associated with AHIMA coding. 

AHIMA and AAPC are both excellent choices for the various certifications available for medical coders. However, the most important thing to look at is their difference in focus and priority of the various courses and their own respective specializations.


  1. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/asahp/jah/2004/00000033/00000003/art00002 
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