Updated on: January 29, 2014

So You Think You Can Code? Moving ICD-10 Training Beyond the Basics

By Cindy Seel
Original story posted on: November 4, 2013

Basic combat training in the U.S. Military is a 10-week training course that transforms civilians into soldiers. Likewise, basic coder training for ICD-10 turns ICD-9 coders into ICD-10 experts. Or does it?

Just like in the military, it’s hands-on experience and day-to-day exposure that turns basic training into ICD-10 expertise. Now is the time for HIM Directors to examine their initial basic coder training programs and move beyond the basics for 2014. 

Basic Training Only the Beginning

Most attendees in today’s express session have already covered these four ICD-10 training basics.


  • Coder Assessments
  • Biomedical Remediation Training
  • Initial ICD-10-CM/PCS Training
  • Physician Awareness and Outreach

Before moving on to advanced ICD-10 training initiatives, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Competency – How well will your coders be able to perform given your basic training? There’s a difference between coding a diagnostic statement and an actual patient’s chart.
  • Productivity – What will be the impact on your accounts receivable? Look beyond coding to include physician documentation, payer adjudication, and system interface impacts.
  • Auditing – Who will now be your ICD-10 experts to audit coding quality? Internal and external auditors will be needed in 2014.

Next Steps

To remain ahead of the tsunami, AHIMA attendees were encouraged to continually communicate and provide direction to their executive leadership. ICD-10 preparation and migration plans should be revised based on lessons learned, and budgets modified accordingly. Adjust plans based on insights gleaned from dual coding, CDI programs, and end-to-end testing with payers.

In these final days of ICD-10 preparation, be persistent, finish strong, and don’t accept the rote answer “we’re ready.”

About the Author

Cindy Seel is a 30+-year HIM professional, having started her career at the Ancilla Health Care System (now Trinity Health), where she moved from a manager of medical records to regional vice president. Cindy holds a master’s degree in administration and has served as adjunct professor at the University of Notre Dame. Roles have included clinical management, corporate compliance, andHIT program director. Currently she serves as a HIM faculty member at Ferris State University as well as the Director of Education and Training for HRS.

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Disclaimer: Every reasonable effort was made to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time it was published. However, due to the nature of industry changes over time we cannot guarantee its validity after the year it was published.