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5 Steps to Better Coding Skills

5 Steps to Better Coding Skills

by Angela Lehoux, BS, CDIP, CCS, CIC, CPC-I

In the world of ICD-10 there is a lot of information being thrown at us: codes, guidelines, lots to absorb. On complex coding issues there can be many and varied opinions. It is time for us as coders to do our homework.

When I was a kid I hated homework. I never understood why we spent six to seven hours in school only to have to go home and do more. As an adult I understand why. Homework reinforces the concepts laid out in the classroom; the repetition helps you absorb and retain information. Homework is where you can pull it all together, consider what you have learned, and to put it into context. Homework is where you take ownership of the material and make sense of it.

As coders we need to make sense of ICD-10 coding. Knowing the conventions and the guidelines is where you start. These are foundational and not subject to opinion. Beyond these foundations, there is a lot of good advice and not so good advice. How will you know the difference?

1. Check your source. Just because an authority says it is an authority in the field does not make it so.

 

2. Go to the experts. All of us are learning as we go along but some have spent more years studying it than others. Their advice and recommendations should be sought out.

 

3. Listen to how they give advice. Do they base their recommendation on the guidelines and conventions? Or do they offer only their opinion?

 

4. Validate their recommendations. Search out the guidelines and references they discuss and check them for yourself. Even experts can be wrong. Make sure their interpretation is complete and logical and the guidance applies to your particular question.

 

5. Seek understanding and comprehension. Spend enough time with the topic that you truly understand it. As a rule of thumb, work on the question until you can explain the issue and solution in enough detail that someone else will be able to understand it as well.

 

When I was in school, homework was not fun. However, it was those times I did my homework I was able to participate in class, learn even more and ace those tests. So let’s pull up our boot straps, dig down deep and see what we are made of. It’s time to get our homework done!

 

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About the Author

Angela Lehoux, BS, CDIP, CCS, CIC, CPC-I
With over 25 years of experience in inpatient, outpatient and emergency room coding, Angela is an Education Specialist, Instructor and Director of Education for Libman Education. Angela teaches Libman Education’s Medical Coder Career Program (MCCP), courses on ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS, and courses for the CCA, CCS, CIC, and COC credentials. Angela holds a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management, Certified Coding Specialist, Certified Documentation Improvement Practitioner from AHIMA, Certified Inpatient & Outpatient Coder and the Certified Professional Coder Instructor certifications from AAPC.

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