October 28, 2013

ICD-10 Coder Education: Three Questions to Ask Training Partners

By Mary Beth Haugen, MS, RHIA

According to industry experts, there are nearly 200,000 active clinical coders in the U.S. who must be trained within the next 12 months. And once ICD-10 is live, an additional 38,000 coders are required to meet healthcare’s day-to-day productivity needs. If training hasn’t already started for your coding and CDI team, it’s not too late.

But it is crunch time!

The good news is that the 85th annual convention and exhibit of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) includes a wide range of coder training vendors and options. The bad news? With so many choices, vendor selection becomes confusing. And how do you ensure that the program you select adequately prepares coders for ICD-10? Here are three training partner criteria to consider.

 Appeal to a wide range of coders

Coders range in age, technical skill, and coding competence. To serve the needs of every coder, training should be engaging, interactive, and easy to use. Coder attention must be captured and sustained to ensure they fully complete each module and retain all the new information.

Furthermore, the program must accommodate your organization’s entire coding staff, including remote and home-based personnel. Ideally, the training partner also offers integrated modules or courses for affiliated ICD-10 professionals such as CDI specialists, physicians, and physician office staff.

Respect existing knowledge base

Throughout the training process, coder productivity must be maintained. Every minute of coder time counts. The training program you select should respect your staff’s day-to-day time constraints and revenue demands. Look for focused and flexible modules that accommodate coders’ time constraints.

One way to accomplish this goal is to include a comprehensive refresher course for coders who have been working in silo areas or on specialty assignments. Options to further explore specialty areas in ICD-10 should be included for experienced coders. All courses should include competency reviews at the end of each module as well as final training tests. These help to ensure information is retained and coders are able to pass recertification exams.

Cost-effective

Most hospitals are cash-strapped and cost-conscious. As mentioned above, coder downtime must be minimized throughout the training process and existing coder knowledge maximized through a combination of refresher courses and new ICD-10 modules. Research three options at varying prices ranges. In my personal experience, the mid-range price is typically the most cost-effective and delivers most value for your dollar.

Need to know more? Shop around.

Certainly this week’s exhibit hall offers a wealth of opportunities to research training programs, sample coursework, and speak with potential training partners.

Explore ICD-10 education options—the good, the bad, and the reality.

  • Identify top three criteria for successful education partnerships.
  • Download a free training partner checklist.
  • List three techniques to help coders absorb and retain ICD-10 information.

About the Author

Mary Beth Haugen is the founder and CEO of Haugen Consulting Group. She has more than 25 years of experience in the health care industry. Mary Beth is currently on the AHIMA Foundation Board and formerly on AHIMA’s EHR Practice Council. She is also a previous AHIMA director. She serves on the Regis University HIM Program Advisory Board and is a nationally known speaker on topics such as ICD-10, the legal health record, integration of healthcare technology, e-discovery, managing electronic health records, managing IT projects, and leadership. She is a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA).

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