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Medical Documentation and Coding Demand Will Increase with ICD-10

August 31, 2012

Medical Coding Demand Will Increase with ICD-10The world of medical documentation and medical coding is extensive and always changing. The change that has the medical field buzzing right now is the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases – Version 10). Currently, health care facilities use ICD-9 for documentation and coding, but by October of 2015, every facility must abide by the new system. These new changes will increase the need for skilled medical transcription and medical coding. It also brings the expertise of these two jobs closer and will merge at some point in the future.

Why Will the Demand for Transcription and Coding increase?

For healthcare employees already working as a medical transcriptionist or medical coder, they don’t need to worry about these changes affecting their chances of employment. The truth is that the need for these highly skilled workers will actually increase with the implementation of ICD-10. 

One of the main reasons for the increase of work is that the new book of codes is a lot more specific than ICD-9. For instance, in ICD-9, the code for a burn on the left arm is the same code as a burn on the right arm. While this may not matter to the insurance company, it does matter to the treating physician, the patient and the transcription. There are not numerous new diseases in the latest manual, but it will have over 70,000 codes listed. They will convert to seven digits, instead of five (as seen in the past). The increase in codes and length of codes will help the medical coder be more specific.

There is no substitute for an intelligent human mind — the fear that medical transcription will be obsolete after the new implementation date is unfounded. Both transcriptionists and coders will actually have to work harder and attend additional training to become compliant. The new system may be confusing and overwhelming to those who have worked on ICD-9 for years. As these older employees leave the workforce, fresh new recruits will be needed. 

Importance of Implementing Electronic Health Records (EHRs) From an ICD-10 Prospective

In order to be compliant with the new rules, healthcare facilities will find that having an efficient EHR (electronic health record) system in place will be a huge benefit. There are still thousands of private practices that have not made the switch to electronic medical records, but this will hurt them when they face compliance issues with the new coding regulations. 

By implementing an easy to use and efficient EHR, the transition to ICD-10 will be a lot smoother. If a facility currently does not use computers for maintaining records, they should consider doing this as soon as possible, to be ready for upcoming coding and documentation changes. 

The reason an EHR is so important is because it helps streamline the coding process. It is much easier to use a search function on a computer than trying to pore through hundreds of pages in a patient’s chart to find information. To determine whether an injury was on the left or right side of the body, for example, the coder can simply search for this terminology within the patient’s electronic record. To find this information in a paper chart wastes hours of valuable time. 

How Will the New System Help Medical Transcription?

It may be true the new system will mean less hours of transcribing work, but it doesn’t appear transcription will become obsolete. In fact, those that choose to stay in the field and learn ICD-10 coding will be rewarded with even more hours of transcribing work. 

Because ICD-10 demands greater detail, physicians will have to provide comprehensive information in their records. This translates into more words for the transcription, which equals greater pay. Also, the increased need for transcription with coding expertise will mean better rewarding opportunities.

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