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ICD-10: Determining Training Needs for Your Practice

Health care providers need to create an ICD-10 training plan now that prepares all staff members, not just the medical coders, for the October 1, 2015 planned implementation of ICD-10. Some of the questions to ask when developing the education plan are:

  • Who needs training?
  • Who will provide training?
  • When will the training be done?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Was the training successful?

Make sure you address these major decisions when developing your plan.

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There is more to ICD-10 training than learning how to code a diagnosis or procedure. It means learning how the entire operation has to change to accommodate the increased specificity of ICD-10. Your staff needs to know:

  • Codes: ICD-10-CM for everyone; ICD-10-PCS for hospital inpatient coders
  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical terminology
  • Internal procedures
  • Payer reimbursement policies


While practically everyone in your practice will need some kind of training and education, not everyone needs to know everything. Consider breaking it down into these three levels:

ICD-10 Coding Training: Obviously, the medical coders will have to learn the ICD-10-CM/PCS codes. They need to learn:

  • ICD-10 code set(s)
  • Anatomy and physiology refreshers (if needed)
  • Some could be trained to become in-house trainers

– Skills needed beyond ICD-10 knowledge include public speaking, the ability to organize and plan training sessions, and a desire to do more than coding

  • Coding Champion would be staff members with ICD-10 training who could:

– Educate and create awareness among the non-coding staff
– Help understand what vendors are selling and how to implement new formats
– Plan implementation and testing

Awareness: This is for the non-coders who need to understand how their work with ICD-10-CM codes will affect reimbursement. Explain the major differences between ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes. It will help to communicate regularly with management, IT staff, and medical staff about:

  • Differences between ICD-9 and ICD-10 code sets
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Value of ICD-10 code sets
  •  Impact on coding productivity and accuracy
  • Budget impacts
  • How the transition will impact departments
  • Impact on physicians’ time
  • How ICD-10 coding could affect patient encounters
  • Updates on progress of the ICD-10 transition
  • Monitoring post implementation

Procedural Training: ICD-10 implementation will mean new processes such as:

  • How to use new software and tools

– Electronic Health Records (EHRs)
– Practice Management systems (PM)
– Computer Assisted Coding (CAC) systems

  • New forms such as superbills
  • New billing and claims procedures
  • New documentation procedures


Not everyone learns the same way and schedules may dictate different times for training. Consider mixing different types of training, including formal classroom sessions, in-house sessions, and remote, online sessions.

People have different learning styles. Take this into consideration when preparing education and training plans. Some of the basic learning styles are:

  • Visual learners

– Prefer to watch
– Get a lot out of videos
– Do best in a classroom environment or distance learning

  • Auditory learners

– Learn though listening
– May struggle to understand what they have read
– Understand when they hear a class lecture

  • Kinesthetic learners

– Learn best by doing
– Enjoy learning by hands-on methods
– Remember what was done, but have difficult recalling what was seen or said

By considering the learning styles of each employee, you will be able to select the right type of training for each person.

There are many different training delivery methods available. Here are some positives and negatives of some of those methods:

In person live-session or workshop: This will typically be a lecture with a PowerPoint presentation. The positives are that there is face-to-face communication and the attendee is able to interact with the instructor. The negatives are that it can be more expensive due to possible travel and will require the employee to take time away from work.

Computer-based distance learning: This type of training is self-directed. The positive is that the trainee sets the training pace. The negative is that it may be less interactive and will not have face-to-face time with an instructor for asking questions.

Web-based live-session/workshop or on-demand recording: This training is done through distance learning with WebEx, a webinar streaming and/or a chat session. The positives are that the user can interact with the instructor, it does not require travel, and trainees may complete it at their convenience. The negative is that it may have limited participation due to a dedicated time period and difficulty for the user to focus.

Pre-recorded: This training will be distance learning through the use of video and audio files. The positives are that the trainees may watch it at their convenience and can save the file to their computers for reference later. The negative is the trainees will not be able to interact with their instructor.

Schedule the Training: Not only will you have to schedule the training sessions, but you will need to adopt a training schedule that allows the practice to continue to function on a daily basis, but also allows every staff member to receive the training he or she needs. Don’t forget to plan how training will be done for any personnel hired in the future.

Budget Resources: Budgeting includes more than merely planning for the costs of training sessions and materials. You must also budget for staff or temp workers who may be needed while your people are in training sessions. This may include outsourcing medical coding while staff coders/billers are in training.

There is not a “one-size-fits-all” answer to how much training is needed. The time needed for training will vary by practice and individuals within that practice. It will also vary based on how experienced current coding staff is.

You do not want to underestimate the size and scope of ICD-10 educational needs. While IT will, most likely, be the largest expense for your practice, especially if you need any additional hardware or software, training and education will be the next biggest expense. You must take this into consideration when developing the ICD-10 budget.

With the implementation of ICD-10 only a few months away, now is the time to get your education plan in place and proceed with that training.


If you have questions about this article, please contact us. This information should not be considered legal advice applicable to a specific situation. Legal guidance for individual matters should be obtained from a retained attorney.