Here’s to the Coders! Healthcare’s Quiet Heroes

Here’s to the Coders! Healthcare’s Quiet Heroes


by Rebecca Harmon, MPM, RHIA, CCA

It’s finally November. I say “finally” because like many of you, I was unsure what the month of October would bring to the HIM world in the aftermath of the ICD-10 implementation.

One thing we know for sure: we’re all still here, and the sky did not fall. For me the most interesting aspect of the transition from September 30 to October 1 this year was all the noise coming out of some corners of healthcare, and the quiet resolution to simply do whatever it takes from those in the Coding corner.

While other constituencies expressed their concerns in loud and persistent voices, in healthcare organizations everywhere, coders pulled the heaviest loads; had the least clout and the most work to do in preparation for the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10.

Today we’re back to business-as-usual in many facilities. While workflows for others continue pretty much as before, today’s coding professionals are being tasked to work their magic in a totally new system. Let’s face it: since the sky hasn’t fallen, there are some who will interpret this as “evidence” that nothing much has really changed and will continue to expect the same level of coding productivity and accuracy that existed prior to the implementation. And, for the most part, that’s what they’ll get; but let us not forget what it has taken to arrive at this place – a whole lot of HARD WORK by coders!

Coders trained early and often, and many worried about retaining what they learned by the time ICD-10 came to fruition due to multiple implementation delays. Some coders had to battle budgetary constraints to secure refresher training while others wondered if ICD-10 was ever going to materialize. Eventually, it did materialize, and while the rest of the world acknowledged its arrival with a sigh of relief, coders everywhere still wrangle with the beast known as ICD-10.

At this juncture I would simply like to acknowledge the quiet, dedicated and knowledgeable coders across the healthcare industry whose patience, dedication, commitment to learning and sheer determination made the switch to ICD-10 happen as smoothly as it did.

Coders are the quiet heroes whose work is critical to the revenue cycle of each institution. As healthcare’s collective angst peaked in September and then fell silent on October 1, coders across this nation remained steadfast and focused on the work in front of them. Yes, ICD-10 has not proved to be the disaster that many predicted, but this is very much due to the hard-working coders in each and every institution and organization.

I believe it was Napoléon Bonaparte who said, “Soldiers win battle; generals get credit for them.”

Many people will be acknowledged for their contributions to successful ICD-10 implementations, but in truth it was coders who made it happen on October 1, and who continue to make it happen every day.


About the Author

Rebecca Harmon, MPM, RHIA, CCA
Rebecca Harmon returned to HIM practice in a leadership role after spending many years as an HIM educator. Tapping her broad history of diverse healthcare experience that began with a tour of duty in the US Navy, Rebecca writes regularly and speaks on education, workforce issues, management and life. An energetic and engaging speaker, Ms. Harmon enjoys sharing her unique perspective with student, faculty, professional and community groups.

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