How to ‘Train Up’ Your Newest Coders


By Angela Lima, BS, CCS, CDIP, COC, CIC, AAPC-Approved Instructor

The ‘Great Reshuffle,’ the idea that individuals are seizing this post-pandemic moment to make changes in their career, is creating an opportunity for healthcare organizations willing to fill their open coding jobs with candidates who may be long on enthusiasm but short on experience.

While we whole-heartedly welcome these new coders to the profession (!), many organizations are realizing that their newest staff members may not yet have the skills needed to be accurate and productive coders. There is a solution for that: train these new employees to do the work you need them to do.

Depending on their background and skills the training path will be different. The skill set of a new HIT grad is different than the skill set of someone with a clinical background. Our advice is to start from where they are and help them to build on their current knowledge.

Foundational Training
Some prospective coding staff may be missing one or more of the foundational sciences needed for a successful coding career. There are four generally recognized domains of knowledge essential for a coder:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Medical Terminology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology

These tools are used daily by every coder and you would not want to skimp on training in this foundational knowledge.

Coding Skills Training
Once the new coder has these foundational skills in hand, the attention turns to coding itself. The three code sets considered essential for a hospital coder are:

  • ICD-10-CM for diagnosis coding in all settings
  • ICD-10-PCS coding of hospital procedures
  • CPT coding of outpatient facility procedures and provider services

Ideally the training will couple command of the code systems, guidelines, and conventions with hands-on, real-world practical experience in accurate and complete coding.

Other Areas of General HIM Knowledge
Other areas of general HIM knowledge that may be handled with coursework or through exposure to operations include understanding how the HIM function fits within the organization, the ethics and laws that govern coders and coding, and the challenge of reimbursement methodologies.

Achieving a Coding Credential
New coders are often anxious to achieve their coding credential. AHIMA’s Certified Coding Associate (CCA) is perfect for the new coder to demonstrate commitment to the profession while they continue to expand their areas of knowledge. Attaining the CCA while they are still a new coder positions them well for achieving more advanced credentials later as their mastery of the material increases.

Remember that everyone was new at some point in their career. An investment in these new professionals will pay dividends for their entire career.

 

Do you need recommendations for training?
Libman Education is happy to work with you or your coder to determine what learning path will provide the greatest bang for the training buck in the shortest period of time. Libman Education offers complete and comprehensive coder skills training for new coders and options include:

Your organization is unique and so is your need for coding training. You can depend on Libman Education to create a custom training solution to fit your needs and your budget. Request your custom training quote today.

 

Core Coding Skills for the Hospital Coder
Provides the essential workforce training necessary for an entry-level hospital coder. Learn the primary coding systems used in hospitals (ICD-10-CM; ICD-10-PCS; and CPT) plus hands-on, real-world practical experience in accurate and complete coding. Start your career today! Learn more here.

About the Author

Angela Lima
Angela Lima applies a hands-on approach to her role as the Director of Education for Libman Education. Whether overseeing the work of subject matter experts including nationally recognized coding authorities; challenging instructional designers to deliver content in a way that is both engaging and memorable; or tapping her 25 years’ experience in inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room coding to write coder-friendly courses herself, Angela is responsible for ensuring that our training is accurate, easily accessible, and challenging.

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