Certified coders in high demand following ICD-10 implementation

(BPT) - Nine years ago, Peter Esswein, a resident of Sandy Springs, Georgia, enrolled in a health information technology degree program at DeVry University to capitalize on the growing prominence of electronic medical records.

"I always wanted to work in the medical industry, and the time was right for a personal career change," Esswein says. "Completing my associate degree in health information technology gave me the confidence and skills I needed to progress on my new career path.''

Now, as Esswein continues his career as a coding quality assistant, health care is changing again. Following the release of a medical coding system overhaul in October 2015, expected updates in the near future are underscoring the demand for coders. International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision, or ICD-10, increased the number of medical codes by more than 50,000 - and in fiscal year 2017, about 5,500 more diagnostic and impatient procedure codes will roll out.

"The new codes are designed to enable more informative, accurate recording of the medical information required to bill correctly for reimbursement," Esswein says. "In my role, it's essential that I not only understand ICD-10, but that I'm staying ahead of what's coming next to help alleviate any confusion in my workplace and mitigate mistakes in advance.''

Prepping for industry change

Many health care organizations say transitioning to the new system was their biggest challenge last year. While Esswein graduated years ago and is getting on-the-job training with the new system, many employers struggled to find qualified new technicians, since recent graduates had studied the previous classification system, ICD-9.

To get these new grads up to speed, DeVry University offered an ICD-10 course at no cost for medical billing and coding graduates who had registered by November 2015 and students in their last semester of the program. All future courses will be taught using ICD-10 as the standard.

"DeVry University programs will continue to evolve as healthcare advances and becomes more accessible in the United States," says Kristyn Murphy-Rodvill, assistant national dean in the College of Health Sciences at DeVry University. "We know finishing a degree program during an industry transition can create obstacles for recent grads. Our ICD-10 course is designed to eliminate those barriers and prepare students with the skills and knowledge they need to be competitive in their field."

Propelling the future of health care

Knowledgeable health information technology experts - from coders to technicians and managers - are projected to remain in high demand through 2022. Medical billing is projected to grow by 22 percent in this time period.

"With the right education, the future is bright for healthcare professionals," says Murphy-Rodvill. "DeVry's programs are designed to help students grow their professional expertise, and remain at the forefront in their industry.''


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