Medical Coding Career Pros and Cons in an ICD-10 World

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The transition to ICD-10 codes shook up the whole medical coding industry, ushering in an even higher demand for skilled medical coders. So what does this new medical coding world look like for new or future professionals? Here are some pros and cons to jumping into the current field of medical coding.

So many new codes to learn

ICD-10 is much more detailed than ICD-9. (ICD-10 has more than 69,000 codes while ICD-9 had about 13,000 codes.) That’s a lot to be familiar with, making a quality training program essential.

Increased complexity of codes

Not only does the ICD-10 classification system have more codes, but each is longer and more descriptive. For example, compare ICD-9 Code 821.11, “Open fracture of shaft of femur” with ICD-10 Code S72.351C, “Displaced comminuted fracture of shaft of right femur, initial encounter for open fracture type IIIA, IIIB, or IIIC.” What a mouthful! With such a complex system, the right training can make all the difference.

Opportunity to learn

What an exciting opportunity to learn new things and evolve the medical coding profession! Employers may offer training, but if not, set yourself above the rest. Get the training you need to navigate those codes by completing a quality ICD-10 training program. Some, like Career Step, are even available online.

Increased specificity

Yes, the new system increases the uniqueness of the codes, but this also improves patient care on a small and large scale. The codes you write can be analyzed to determine how effectively, or not, an ailment is being treated, even on an international scale. (As an example, check out this post on tracking Ebola through medical coding from a few years ago.) By learning a complex system and being more specific, you improve the healthcare industry.

High demand career

ICD-10 coders have been in high demand ever since the new system rolled out. Before ICD-10 was even implemented,  CNBC reported that there was a 20-30% shortage of medical coders, a deficit expected to grow to 50%. As a skilled coder, this demand gives you the upper hand when applying for jobs.

Since the need is so great, if you have prior experience in the field, you can expect your paycheck to increase. Some employers are offering retention bonuses to keep staff, and others are wooing ICD-10-certified coders with attractive salaries and benefit packages.

Exciting career path

Experienced ICD-10 coders have an improved career trajectory with lots of options. Check out some promising medical coding career paths here. President of Healthcare Consulting Services TrustHCS, Torrey Barnhouse, told CNBC that experienced coders easily rise up the ranks or even pick up consulting positions and take home 6-figure salaries.

What a perfect time to jump into the medical coding and billing profession. Are you up for the challenge?

Learn more about Career Step’s Professional Medical Coding and Billing Online Course to kickstart your career today!

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