9 Tips To Calm Coder Anxiety Heading Into ICD-10

Combat ICD-10 Information Anxiety

Anxiety is always tough to combat, and with the implementation of ICD-10 quickly approaching, coders’ anxiety levels may be at an all-time high. The entire journey has been a rollercoaster, making it difficult to manage emotions and prepare mentally for a go-live date that has essentially been a moving target. Although the House of Representatives and Senate recently passed the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act, yet another bill (H.R. 2126) was introduced on April 30 that could enable further delay.

How can managers alleviate some of this tension and uncertainty? Adequate training and practice are critical; however, there are also a variety of other strategies that managers can use to calm staff members’ concerns.

1. Acknowledge that we’re all in this together. ICD-10 is a new concept for everyone. Although departments should strive for quality, let coders know that mistakes and questions are inevitable. Reiterate the fact that everyone in the department brings value to the table. Encourage coders to support one another through this transition.

2. Remind coders that ICD-10 is an opportunity for growth. As coders gain experience with ICD-10, they’ll also expand their knowledge and build expertise that will enable them to further their careers.

3. Encourage coders to work together. Coders should regularly discuss questions that arise while dual coding and practicing in ICD-10. Open the lines of communication so coders feel comfortable sharing ideas with one another.

4. Schedule weekly ICD-10 discussion meetings. These meetings should be casual in nature and serve as an opportunity for coders to share experiences and potential problem areas in ICD-10.

5. Collaborate with other local hospitals and hospitals within your system to share ideas and experiences. What have other managers done to calm anxieties?

6. Identify a lead ‘go to’ coder. This individual can perform research into ICD-10 questions and relay feedback to coding staff members as clarifications are provided.

7. Reiterate to coders that they must rely only on official coding guidance, such as AHA’s Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS. Tell them not to get bogged down by information available on the Internet that may or may not be accurate. Require citations for any information on which coders base decisions.

8. Encourage coders to review guidance and helpful hints included in the encoder and professional editions of the coding book. Taking the time to do this will pay dividends in a live coding environment.

9. Encourage coders to make notes in their coding books regarding personal coding challenges and highlight important resources and references. 

If you’re a manager, what are some of the strategies that you’ve used to calm coder anxieties? If you’re a coder, what would help ease your anxiety? I’d like to hear your thoughts.

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