Stay the Course

Tune in to this monthly online coding column from Melanie Endicott to learn about challenging areas and documentation opportunities for ICD-10-CM/PCS.


I’ve recently been training for a half marathon and while on one of my long training runs, I started thinking, “Wouldn’t it be horrible if I was injured or sick on race day?” I have been training for four months and I would be devastated if I couldn’t run on race day. Then I started thinking about the ICD-10 delay (there’s a lot of time to think when you are running for 2+ hours), and I imagine that the delay felt much like an injury on race day and all of the ICD-10 training that coders and others have been going through for months, and in some cases years, was wasted.

However, then I took a look at the situation in a positive light and realized that the training was not wasted at all. The training, whether it is for a half marathon or for ICD-10 implementation, has established a great foundation on which to build on.

If any of you are runners out there, you know that if you take any longer than a few weeks off from running, you have to start over at shorter runs and rebuild the endurance that you lost. The same is true for ICD-10 training. Now that you’ve built your baseline knowledge of ICD-10, you must continue along the training path. Take this extra year to dig into those difficult cases at your facility and practice coding them in ICD-10-CM/PCS. To use another running analogy, I’d call this “hill training.”

This extra year of preparation is also the ideal time to be focusing on your clinician documentation to ensure that it is ready for ICD-10. Solid, detailed clinical documentation, just like proper running form and well-fitting shoes, is essential to be able to accurately code with ICD-10.

Don’t take this next year off from running—I mean coding. Instead, stay the course and continue your training and you will come out even stronger at the finish line on October 1, 2015.


Melanie Endicott, MBA/HCM, RHIA, CDIP, CCS, CCS-P, FAHIMA, is senior director of HIM practice excellence, coding and CDI products development at AHIMA. She has over 15 years experience in HIM and coding, with her most recent focus being in ICD-10-CM/PCS, and has presented numerous times at the regional, state, and national levels on HIM and coding topics. She was previously a director of HIM practice excellence, focusing on coding products, resources, and education, at AHIMA. Melanie is an AHIMA-approved ICD-10-CM/PCS trainer and an ICD-10 Ambassador.

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