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Can I use a computer assisted coding (CAC) tool for the exam?

It is best to learn without a coding tool, at first.

The CPC exam does not allow coding tools to be brought in to the examination room.

Electronic devices with an on off switch (cell phones, smart phones, tablets, etc) are not permitted in the examination room. Do not bring them as there is no place to stow them.

What year’s books should I use?

Since the code sets for each coding book are updated every year, it’s essential for coders to have the current year’s books to ensure accurate performance. Reporting wrong codes can lead to denied claim submissions and substantial penalization. It’s clearly very important to get an education on the annual code set updates and to obtain new code books every year.

All AAPC exams are based on the current calendar year’s code sets, so we strongly suggest you use the current year’s books. The previous calendar year’s books may be used on an exam, but you would be at obvious disadvantage doing so. The upcoming year’s books are not allowed for exam use. The exams are updated every January for the new code sets. Examinees using their second attempt in the next calendar year will not be permitted to take the previous year's exam.

What is allowed in our books?

Handwritten notes are acceptable in the coding books only if they pertain to daily coding activities. Questions from the Study Guides, Practice Exams or the Exam itself are prohibited. Tabs may be inserted, taped, pasted, glued, or stapled in the manuals so long as the obvious intent of the tab is to earmark a page with words or numbers, not supplement information in the book.

No materials (other than tab dividers) may be inserted, taped, pasted, glued, or stapled in the manuals.

If you are a certified coder then you may want to use a coding tool, at least for some of your charts.

Will Computers Replace Human Coders?

As CAC technology becomes increasingly sophisticated there will be less demand for coders to perform manual coding tasks. Computers will not replace all of the people who are currently working as clinical coders, but computers will begin to reduce the number of hours spent manually assigning codes. Computers are not capable of taking on the new roles and responsibilities and performing the review, validation, and oversight tasks that will be created as a result of computerization of clinical coding.

Just as software applications have continued to slowly evolve over the past several decades to create tools that assist transcriptionists (versus replacing them), CAC technology should be viewed as a tool to assist coding staff rather than as a replacement for coding staff. Though it is anticipated that computers will take over some coding tasks, computers are not expected to replace human coders. Just as transcriptionists who work with the latest technology (e.g., speech recognition) have modified their role to become “expert editors,” automation tools for coding will likely result in a role change for coding professionals and will result in the better use of such staff for complex decision support tasks.

It should be noted that there may be some circumstances where CAC can be applied without human intervention today. Users reported to the work group limited instances where confidence in the CAC code output was high and only random editing was performed. An example of this is code assignment for normal mammogram reports. As these systems advance, the range of which situations will be acceptable for direct computer-generated coding is expected to increase. Overall, however, CAC, without human review, is not to the point where large displacement of the coding work force can occur to any significant degree.

It is best to learn without a coding tool, at first.

The CPC exam does not allow coding tools to be brought in to the examination room.

Electronic devices with an on off switch (cell phones, smart phones, tablets, etc) are not permitted in the examination room. Do not bring them as there is no place to stow them.

What year’s books should I use?

Since the code sets for each coding book are updated every year, it’s essential for coders to have the current year’s books to ensure accurate performance. Reporting wrong codes can lead to denied claim submissions and substantial penalization. It’s clearly very important to get an education on the annual code set updates and to obtain new code books every year.

All AAPC exams are based on the current calendar year’s code sets, so we strongly suggest you use the current year’s books. The previous calendar year’s books may be used on an exam, but you would be at obvious disadvantage doing so. The upcoming year’s books are not allowed for exam use. The exams are updated every January for the new code sets. Examinees using their second attempt in the next calendar year will not be permitted to take the previous year's exam.

What is allowed in our books?

Handwritten notes are acceptable in the coding books only if they pertain to daily coding activities. Questions from the Study Guides, Practice Exams or the Exam itself are prohibited. Tabs may be inserted, taped, pasted, glued, or stapled in the manuals so long as the obvious intent of the tab is to earmark a page with words or numbers, not supplement information in the book.

No materials (other than tab dividers) may be inserted, taped, pasted, glued, or stapled in the manuals.

If you are a certified coder then you may want to use a coding tool, at least for some of your charts.

Will Computers Replace Human Coders?

As CAC technology becomes increasingly sophisticated there will be less demand for coders to perform manual coding tasks. Computers will not replace all of the people who are currently working as clinical coders, but computers will begin to reduce the number of hours spent manually assigning codes. Computers are not capable of taking on the new roles and responsibilities and performing the review, validation, and oversight tasks that will be created as a result of computerization of clinical coding.

Just as software applications have continued to slowly evolve over the past several decades to create tools that assist transcriptionists (versus replacing them), CAC technology should be viewed as a tool to assist coding staff rather than as a replacement for coding staff. Though it is anticipated that computers will take over some coding tasks, computers are not expected to replace human coders. Just as transcriptionists who work with the latest technology (e.g., speech recognition) have modified their role to become “expert editors,” automation tools for coding will likely result in a role change for coding professionals and will result in the better use of such staff for complex decision support tasks.

It should be noted that there may be some circumstances where CAC can be applied without human intervention today. Users reported to the work group limited instances where confidence in the CAC code output was high and only random editing was performed. An example of this is code assignment for normal mammogram reports. As these systems advance, the range of which situations will be acceptable for direct computer-generated coding is expected to increase. Overall, however, CAC, without human review, is not to the point where large displacement of the coding work force can occur to any significant degree.

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