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Features Health & Wellness SCC offers course on new health coding system

Acronyms like “ICD-9-CM” and “ICD-10- CM/PCS” may make the average person’s eyes glaze over.

But for Southwestern Community College graduate Deanna Timmons and countless others in the health information technology profession, the mere mention of transitioning to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) tends to speed up heart rates and bloodpressure readings.

That’s because every five-numeric-digit medical code Timmons has known since getting her associate’s degree in 2007 will become obsolete next fall. On Oct. 1, 2014, ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS and its sevencharacter, alphanumeric code set will go into effect.

The new ICD-10-CM/PCS will replace all ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes and procedure codes.

A Franklin resident and lead coder for Hospital Corporations of America, Timmons acknowledged the looming transition “can be overwhelming.”

That’s why SCC is offering a workforce development course this fall. The 14-week program will help professionals already in the field get accustomed to ICD-10 before the federally mandated change. Registration deadline for the online course is Aug. 26, and the course runs from Sept. 9 through Dec. 13.

“The new coding system allows for greater specificity and greater detail,” said Kimberly Rice, MA, RHIA, CCS – the SCC instructor who will teach the course. “It will allow the U.S. to compare data with other countries. Over 100 nations have already adopted it, and we’re one of the last developed countries to make this transition. The new system gives us a way to increase our research and improve the accuracy of all coding.”

Positive as the long-term benefits may be, the short-term challenges of adjusting to ICD- 10 are very real for those in the field.

In Timmons’ role with the nation’s largest hospital corporation, she knows just how farreaching the impact will be.

“It is basically going to require us to have extensive knowledge of anatomy and physiology,” said Timmons, who got her bachelor’s degree in health information management from the University of Cincinnati. “With this change, it’s hard to follow what they’re talking about. We have a glimpse. But until we’re actually in ICD-10, we have no idea exactly what’s taking place. It’s going to require better documentation for choosing the right codes.”

Anyone currently in the health information technology/management or coding fields can take the ICD-10 course at Southwestern. For more information, contact Scott Sutton at (828)306-7034 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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