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Transition to ICD-10 codes will be disruptive, but CIOs can help

A survey of experienced hospital coders suggests that learning ICD-10 codes will be like learning a whole new language. Here's how CIOs can help keep them in the fold.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Like a certain segment of the physician population contemplating retiring early instead of learning electronic health record (EHR) systems by the 2015 federal deadlines, a segment of hospital coders might quit instead of learning ICD-10 codes, which will replace the current ICD-9 codes in the United States on Oct. 1, 2013.

A new survey of 770, mostly experienced, coders released by kForce Inc., a management staffing firm that counts health care among its verticals, found that 36% of medical coders are concerned about how to get the necessary training in ICD-10 codes, and 3% are flat-out worried about their future. (Loosely defined, mostly experienced means someone more than 35 years old with 11 or more years in the profession.)

Nearly two-thirds of respondents to the survey were relying on their employers to train them in ICD-10, but only 27% have started it. Technology plays a big part in how the medical coders will succeed, because 66% of respondents feel most comfortable with online training. When asked about which areas they will need to be trained in, rules and regulations came first (66%), but second (44%) was learning the new technology that would support ICD-10 codes.

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