AHIMA vs AAPC: Difference and Comparison

Medical coders help medical facilities of all sizes keep track of their patient’s 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. 

Key Takeaways

  1. AHIMA focuses on broader healthcare management, while AAPC concentrates on medical coding and billing.
  2. AHIMA credentials suit health information management professionals; AAPC certifications target medical coders and billers.
  3. AHIMA membership offers extensive networking opportunities, and AAPC membership provides job search assistance and exclusive discounts.


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


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The American Health Information Association is abbreviated as AHIMA. They have about a half-dozen qualifications, most 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 medical coding certifications for hospitals and specialities.

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

Comparison Table

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 America 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 a mastery-level understanding of outpatient coding, allowing them to operate in a range of settings such as speciality 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-specialities. 

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.

You’ll need this temporary credential and a year of medical coding experience to earn the full CPC credential. 

The National Advisory Board, the Legal Advisory Committee, the Medical Coding Physician Advisory Board, and the Local Chapter Association Board of Directors comprise 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, healthcare privacy and security, health information management, etc. And the certifications offered by AAPC focus on compliance, coding, auditing, etc. 
  3. AHIMA is well-known for its inpatient facilities, whereas AAPC is more well-known for its outpatient facilities. 
  4. The most preferred career advancement offered by AHIMA’s certifications is in administration. On the other hand, the most preferred career advancement offered by AAPC is in the medical speciality. 
  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. 


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

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