Healthcare providers, insurance payers and vendors aren’t the only entities that are affected by the unexpected ICD-10 delay of more than a year. Delay in implementing this coding system is detrimental also for students pursuing health information management degrees and trying to prepare for their careers.
On March 31, the U.S. senate passed the “Doc Fix” bill that approved H.R. 4302, the legislation which delays the ICD-10 implementation deadline by one year to October 1, 2015.
Students who have been preparing for the tenth version of codes now find themselves unable to take the certification. Instead, they’re left scrambling to learn ICD-9 so they can get a job before that coding system becomes obsolete next year.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), in the build up to the vote on the sustainable growth rate and ICD-10 delay, has cited the 25,000 students pursuing their undergraduate degree who have been learning to code exclusively using ICD-10 as a reason to remove the delay from the vote.
The Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions estimates that there are 40,000 scholars and current professionals studying at community colleges and going through professional accreditation programs who will be affected.
Because of the switch that was supposed to happen this year, most educational programs have transitioned from trying to teach both codes to solely teaching ICD-10. Teaching both medical code systems simultaneously makes for a massive workload for both educators and students, partly because ICD-10 requires a more extensive grasp of anatomy. The delay means that the students will need to learn ICD-9 coding for an additional year.
Now the requirement is that they must learn both the coding systems and will likely need a refresher on ICD-10 before the implementation deadline. Education programs have had to reevaluate their ICD-10 transition timelines and continue to teach both the codes to new students. It is very difficult for people new to coding to learn multiple code sets at once.
There are reports that the delay will also have a financial impact on schools. Alfred State College devoted 20 percent of its budget last year to the ICD-10 transition, spending thousands of dollars on training faculty and redesigning its life science and medical terminology courses that support coder training. Delaying implementation will cost the college more money in training new educators and redesigning their transition plan to account for the added time that dual coding education would require.