ICD-9 or ICD-10, That is the Question How to Choose the Right Medical Coding Training for Your New Career

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1 ICD-9 or ICD-10, That is the Question How to Choose the Right Medical Coding Training for Your New Career

2 Making a career change is a big decision, and of course you want to ensure you re choosing the very best educational program to prepare you for your field of choice. Your research may be based on a number of factors schedule restrictions, tuition costs, certification preparation, schools reputations with employers, etc. but in the medical coding industry, with the transition to ICD-10 looming on the horizon, your educational decisions are even more complicated. You may be familiar with the fact that the healthcare industry will be transitioning from the ICD-9-CM code set. These codes are used by medical coders as well as a number of other healthcare professionals Should I choose a training program that teaches me ICD-9 or ICD-10 codes? for tracking and reimbursement purposes. Healthcare facilities must transition to ICD-10 on October 1, This deadline has been mandated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and at that point all healthcare facilities must begin using ICD-10 codes when they submit claims to insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid. This is a monumental undertaking for the healthcare industry, and it naturally begs the question, Should I choose a training program that teaches me ICD-9 or ICD-10 codes? Our ebook will start backward from getting a job and show you how all the pieces fit together as you make your decision. 1

3 Getting a Job: What Employers Are Looking For Employers must transition to ICD-10 codes on October 1, 2014, but up until that point, they ll still be using ICD-9 codes. Most likely, they will be dual coding (coding AHIMA recommends that information with both medical coding certificate ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes) programs hold off on for several months prior to transitioning their training the implementation date to ICD-10 until August 2013 to identify any potential problems and ensure coder readiness, but payers will only reimburse claims that use ICD-9 codes through September 30, 2014 and only those using ICD-10 codes beginning October 1. It s extremely important that you have a good understanding of when you ll be looking for a job. Many training programs for new coders take about a year to complete, and if you re going to be done training and job hunting before October 1, 2014, employers will expect you to know ICD-9 codes. These industry realities are the main reasons behind the American Health Information Management Association s (AHIMA) recommendation that medical coding certificate programs hold off on transitioning their training to ICD-10 until August Offering ICD-9 training before August 2013 ensures students graduate with the skills employers are looking for and that they will need to become certified so they can start working immediately upon graduation. 2

4 Getting Certified: Taking that First Step toward Employment Credentials are important in the medical coding world. While there are a few positions that don t require a credential for employment, they re becoming increasingly rare. Earning a credential is the best first step after graduation for someone trying to break into the industry. However, the transition to ICD-10 will also affect your certification plans. The two most recognized, entry-level coding credentials are the Certified Coding Associate (or CCA, offered by AHIMA) and the Certified Professional Coder (or CPC, offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders, or AAPC). It s important to determine which exam you ll be taking to ensure your training program prepares you for the right code set. The CCA certification exam will transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 codes on April 1, The CPC certification exam will transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 codes on January 1, If you re planning to earn your credential prior to these dates, you ll need to know the ICD-9 codes. 3

5 Getting Educated: ICD-9 vs. ICD-10 Regardless of the code set your initial education emphasizes, foundational training will be used throughout your career. It s important to note that any medical coding education program you choose should include a significant amount of training in biomedical sciences (anatomy, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and medical terminology), healthcare documentation, and other foundational subjects. These concepts are crucial to coding in both ICD-9 and ICD-10; and, no matter the code set your initial education program emphasizes, this foundational training will be used throughout your career. The new ICD-10 codes will be much more specific than the ICD-9 codes. There are approximately 14,000 ICD-9 diagnosis codes and over 69,000 ICD-10 diagnosis codes. All of those new codes require you to have a better understanding of the medical terminology, anatomy, etc. behind the diagnoses in order to assign the right code. Building a strong biomedical sciences foundation in an ICD-9 course will leave you much better prepared to move to ICD-10. 4

6 Getting Prepared: Transitioning to ICD-10 If your training timeline would be best served by a program that emphasizes the ICD-9 code set, the natural next step is ensuring you ll be prepared to transition to ICD-10 in the coming months. Once you re employed, your employer will likely be responsible for ensuring you have the training you need to successfully make the transition. However, as You will be well you ll likely be beginning your new job just a few months served by choosing an before the switch, your new education program employer may already be well that offers an ICDinto their employee education 10 introduction or plans. In this case, you would transition course. be well served by choosing an education program that offers an ICD-10 introduction or transition course. Another advantage to choosing a school that trains you in both ICD-9 and ICD-10 is that you can enter the workforce ready to help with dual coding efforts. As many employers will be coding in both ICD-9 and ICD-10 in the months leading up to the mandated transition, this can help you stand out from other job applicants as you re moving from education to employment. 5

7 There is no doubt that ICD-10 should be an important consideration as you re choosing the training program you need to start a new career in medical coding. However, determining whether you should choose a program that emphasizes the ICD- 9 or ICD-10 codes is more complicated than a simple yes or no answer and it depends heavily on your personal and professional goals. With careful evaluation of how your goals fit with industry and employer needs, recommendations, and timelines, you can be one step closer to choosing the best medical coding education program for you. 6

8 R How Career Step Can Help Career Step has been training quality healthcare professionals for over 20 years. Our entirely online Medical Coding and Billing training is trusted by thousands for reasons including: 1. Comprehensive ICD-9 training In accordance with AHIMA recommendations, Career Step is training coders on the ICD-9 code set. This ensures that you can earn your credential and get a job upon graduation. 2. Free ICD-10 FastTrack course All new students will receive a free ICD-10 FastTrack course (available Summer 2013) to ensure that you re ready for the new ICD-10 certifications, dual coding efforts, and the October 1, 2014 transition deadline. 3. AHIMA-approved curriculum The Career Step Inpatient and Outpatient Medical Coding and Billing program is one of the only online courses approved by AHIMA, which means it s been evaluated by the largest medical coding industry association and they ve determined that it prepares you for certification and employment. 4. Employer-trusted training Career Step is the preferred employee training provider for the largest hospital group in the U.S. and the second largest health insurer in the nation, among others, which means you can trust our training to have you workplace ready. 5. Hands-on experience We ve built both our ICD-9 and ICD-10 courses on employer recommendations, and you ll practice your coding skills on genuine medical records and reports with 3M encoder software to ensure you re ready for certification and employment upon graduation. Get Started Today! Call a Career Step Academic Advisor at or visit CareerStep.com/medical-coding-billing to take your first step!

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