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Will 2015 Bring Good News for Coders with ICD-10 Looming Large?

2015 is expected to be a good year for medical coders across the US. With ICD-10 implementation scheduled on October 01, 2015, the demand for certified and experienced coders will grow exponentially.

According to industry experts, the shortage of medical coders might increase to 50% in 2015 due to the expertise and accuracy required in application of ICD-10. The new coding system is also expected to bring a coder’s productivity down by 50%. To avoid resultant cash flow disruptions and make up for the expected loss in productivity, providers will hire more coders.

For a smooth transition to this updated coding system, experienced coders as well as medical coding students will be needed to understand the difference between ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes. They will need certification in both the code sets along with a sound understanding of physiology and anatomy.

Industry facts

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a need for 50,000 more qualified coders by 2015
According to the 2013 Healthcare Salary Survey of AAPC, the job market for coders and billers is expanding at a rapid pace

How can Coders Prepare for Changes in 2015?

The main reason for the estimated increase in the demand for medical coding jobs will be due to ICD-10 compliance and CPT 2015. Coders can get a high-paying job in hospitals or private practices if they are accredited as well as experienced. In order to obtain accreditation, they will be required to complete 700 to 1,000 hours of coursework in physiology, pharmacology and anatomy. They can access these courses online.

Experienced coders can take advantage of the specialty credential offered by AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders). It will help them to demonstrate their expertise in the respective specialty disciplines. This certification doesn’t require CPC credential thus, allowing coders to validate their understanding of codes in a certain specialty.

AAPC offers online coding programs. It also offers a five-step training program to help coders prepare for the ICD-10 update. This program includes code set training, specialty coding set training, anatomy and physiology training, implementation, and a proficiency exam.

The degree programs by American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) are considered legitimate.

High Retention Bonuses for Skilled Coders

There is a bidding war going on for experienced and certified coders. Many hospitals have started offering retention bonuses for the existing staff. Depending on their experience, hospitals are paying quarterly bonuses to the coders. They are being paid approximately 10 - 25% of their annual salary as retention bonus.

Healthcare organizations are being encouraged to boost productivity of medical coders by using computer assisted coding (CAC), offering ICD-10 training, implementing EHR and enhancing the workplace.

Better Job Prospects + Better Pay Package

Many coders are increasing their earning potential by taking up jobs as peer reviewers, auditors and supervisors. Some are earning six figure salaries by taking up a job as a consultant.

Medical coders need to start their training for ICD-10 as soon as possible. Billing companies such as MedicalBillersandCoders.com also offer ICD-10 training guide to help these professionals prepare for the transition. MBC’s skilled and certified coders and billers provide effective RCM solutions for over 40 medical specialties. The company’s job board can be accessed by coders looking for attractive job opportunities in different healthcare organizations.

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