Coders! ICD-10 is clearly coming to be a reality, and if you carry your coding credential with pride, then you must seize this opportunity to show the value of that credential! ICD-10 is the biggest change to directly affect coding since the revolution of E&M codes in the early 1990’s! The potential for this massive change in our coding conventions has the potential to make financial impacts on our physicians, providers, hospitals, clinics and insurance companies that could be quite devastating. But it need not be so! As coders, we have a unique opportunity to stand up and shine!
“SHINE?” you say? Yes, shine brightly to those who need your skills to help them through this transition. Shine brightly to those who have the responsibility to keep an office, clinic or hospital solvent through tough times, and ensure that the lights stay on and employees and patients are not affected. Does this sound like a big responsibility? Yes, it is and one that must be taken seriously.
I plead with my fellow coders to take personal initiative to gain the proficiency in ICD-10-CM that is required to continue operations and revenue without interruption. I remind you that your credential belongs to you and not your employer. If you leave, you will take your CPC, CCS-P or other coding credential with you. This credential was likely a requirement of your current position, and by hiring a certified coder, you accepted the responsibility of remaining on the cutting edge of your field of expertise. You have agreed to utilize the skills inherent to that credential for the better of your employer or client. You have made a commitment to be trusted as someone who carries a superior level of knowledge and ethical responsibility to serve as a coder without compromise. Your credential is not your employer’s responsibility — it belongs to you.
With that said, how could you imagine rising to this level of responsibility without gaining the proficiency to transition into ICD-10 on October 1st? AAPC and AHIMA have set minimal standards of qualification to ensure that certified coders have a basic knowledge with which to make the transition. The proficiency exams are not intended to show excellence; they only identify a fundamental knowledge of ICD-10. That level of knowledge will not provide the strength, speed and accuracy that your employer will need on October 1st to get the claims submitted for payment. This will cause a backlog of work which will result in one of two scenarios: 1) Your employer will be required to pay overtime and contract labor just to maintain their revenue flow; or 2) Your employer will be unable to financially cover the extra labor cost, and the backlog will result in less revenue and challenges for the practice.
Coders, we can avoid this by being proactive and taking steps now to learn ICD-10, but that is not enough — we must also develop a strong proficiency. Coding takes practice, and knowledge alone is not practice. Certified coders that have not trained in ICD-10 by now are well behind the curve. Coders should already be trained and practicing their ICD-10 coding daily to work up to a level of knowledge that will transition with ease.
If you are responsible for coding for your organization, consider the value that you can bring to your employer by simply taking steps to become excellent at ICD-10 coding. On behalf of the credentials that we have all worked so hard to achieve, I urge all coders to move forward in their ICD-10 training, accept responsibility, and provide your employer with the knowledge that they are entrusting to your credential.
Texas Career Center offers Advanced ICD-10 classroom training for certified coders and we have one more round of classes remaining before the transition. These classes also offer 30 CEUs from AAPC. Whether you receive your training at TXCC or elsewhere, please commit to this important task. Coders…let’s SHINE!!!
Tamra R. Lahmer, CPC, CPC-I, CPMA, CCS-P, MCS-P