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Professional Certificate Approval Program

Coding certificate programs which have earned formal approval under AHIMA’s Professional Certificate Approval Program (PCAP) adhere to quality standards in programming, instruction and curriculum for non-degree granting academic coding certificate programs.

PCAP approved coding certificate programs offer a comprehensive curriculum which meets or exceeds rigorous PCAP coding competencies and have been evaluated for compliance with faculty qualifications for coding education and program standards.

pcap logo

  • Industry-wide recognition for compliance with quality standards in programming, instruction, curriculum, and competencies for non-degree granting academic coding certificate programs
  • Prominent listing in the Directory of PCAP Approved Programs
  • Student eligibility to sit for AHIMA’s Certified Coding Associate (CCA), Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) or Certified Coding Specialist – Physician-based (CCS-P) certification exams
  • Demonstrated adherence to rigorous standards set by industry leaders in coding practice and coding education
  • Demonstrated commitment to coding practice workforce development through practical application and competency demonstration via required professional practice experiences

The Directory of PCAP Approved Programs is an online resource which is frequently visited by prospective students who are specifically seeking coding certificate programs which meet rigorous coding education standards, as well as employers who are looking for well-trained job candidates.

An academic coding certificate program is eligible to apply for PCAP approval only if:

  • The sponsoring institution has had students enrolled in the coding certificate program for a minimum of six months; and
  • The sponsoring academic institution is accredited by a national US Department of Education accreditor or comparable international accrediting authority.

There are no exceptions to these eligibility criteria.

1. Download and review the following documents for application requirements:

See the 2018 PCAP Coding Competencies Implementation Timeline below.

2. Ensure that all required documents are prepared as directed so they can be easily uploaded during the online application process.

If you have any questions as you are preparing your application materials, please contact AHIMA’s PCAP Liaison John Richey at john.richey@ahima.org or 312-233-1149.

3. Using the Self-Study Template as your primary tool,

  • Go to the SmarterSelect website to access the online PCAP application system.
  • Select the Apply button to create your initial online PCAP application.
  • Upload all required documents.
  • Enter required narrative text.
  • Submit your application. If you are not ready to submit your application, you will also have an option to save your work and submit it later.

4. Submit full payment.

5. Upon submission of the online application and full payment, email academic.affairs@ahima.org. You will receive an email confirmation to verify receipt of your application and payment, after which the formal application review process will begin.

Follow the steps below to annually renew PCAP approval:

1. Download and review the following documents for the PCAP renewal (attestation) requirements:

2. Ensure that all required documents are prepared as directed so they can be easily forwarded via email.

  • If you have any questions as you are preparing your renewal (attestation) materials, please contact AHIMA’s PCAP Liaison John Richey at john.richey@ahima.org or 312-233-1149.

3. Email your Annual Attestation Form and any other required documents to academic.affairs@ahima.org.

4. Submit full payment. Email academic.affairs@ahima.org after payment has been submitted.

5. Upon submission of your Annual Attestation Form, any other required documents and full payment, you will receive an email confirmation to verify receipt of your renewal materials and payment, after which the formal renewal review process will begin.

Initial Applicant Programs 

PCAP Coding Competencies Version 

Date of Implementation 

Programs Applying for first-time PCAP Approval

Programs are responsible for the 2018 PCAP Competencies

March 1, 2019

Renewing Applicant Programs

PCAP Coding Competencies Version

Date of Implementation

PCAP application or attestation in 2019

2014

N/A

PCAP application or attestation after September 1, 2020: State clearly on your PCAP application or attestation form under which set of competencies (2014 or 2018) your review should be conducted

2014 (for programs which elect to implement in 2021) or 2018

September 1, 2020

PCAP application or attestation after September 1, 2021

2018
As of September 1, 2021, all PCAP-approved programs must be transitioned and compliant with the 2018 PCAP Competencies

September 1, 2021

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