The Value of Online Self-Paced Training for ICD-10
By Pam Wirth, RHIA
When it comes to ICD-10, many think the 10 months remaining until the transition deadline provides ample time to get coders fully training on the complex new code set. Not only is that unrealistic, but those that haven't already locked in their on-site training programs may find themselves out of luck.
Escalating demand is quickly creating a shortage of qualified instructors, a situation that will worsen as October 2014 draws near. One way to circumvent this shortage is to take advantage of one of a growing number of online, self-paced training programs.
Not all online programs are equal, however. The key is to find a quality program designed by qualified ICD-10 experts.
Convenience and Flexibility
Online training programs are ideal for coders whose schedules do not permit them to attend on-site training, or for facilities whose coders require training only on certain specialties. Properly designed online self-paced training programs will meet or exceed AHIMA training guidelines of 16 hours for ICD-10-CM and 24 hours for ICD-10-PCS, with an additional minimum of 10 hours practice on each classification.
The best programs will also be flexible, so courses can be tailored to meet a facility's and coder's specific training needs. This not only includes addressing learning styles- visual, verbal and written-but also enabling courses to be personalized by offering options ranging from comprehensive packages to individual and specialty specific modules. This ensures coders will receive exactly the training they need in a manner that will enhance their retention of the information.
When evaluating self-paced online training programs, make sure they are taught by AHIMA-approved ICD-10-CM/PCS instructors. Also important are supporting resources to ensure coders can attain - and maintain - ICD-10 proficiency. A must-have is direct access to instructors, most often via email with a short timeframe for responses. Other beneficial features are:
- A robust library of practice records coded by ICD-10 experts
- Pre- and post-training assessments to measure readiness and identify areas where more training is needed
- A single source from which to access codebooks and terminology manuals
The best online programs will also enable coders to return to courses and access resources after they have successfully completed their training. This is important because there will likely be a gap between when training is complete and when ICD-10 coding becomes a daily activity, particularly for coders whose facilities have not yet (or will not) implement dual ICD-9 and ICD-10 coding. If too much time elapses before coders can use what they've learned, the skills will be lost.
The Right Fit
Will your coders have the knowledge-and hands-on experience-needed to succeed in an ICD-10 coding environment? With thousands of new codes to learn, coders need education solutions that are comprehensive, convenient and easily understood.
The right online, self-paced training program will encompass all the elements listed above to ensure coders are proficient in ICD-10-which will ultimately reduce post-transition productivity declines and help ensure that facilities are prepared for all that ICD-10 will bring.Pam Wirth, RHIA, is president of the Coding, Compliance and Quality Division of Amphion Medical Solutions (www.amphionmedical.com