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As the leaves on the trees are changing all around us and falling to the ground, I am reminded again that the only constant is change. The healthcare industry has just undergone one of the biggest changes since I can remember. And for those of us who’ve been around a while, that includes the MAC attacks, DRGs, HIPAA to name just a few. And as things in healthcare change, we must change and adapt as well.

For coders who’ve been doing this a long time, like myself, learning the new code set levels the playing field for the seasoned professional as well as for the novice. The playing field may be more level than it has ever been. This may give some advantage to those just entering the world of medical coding untouched by ICD-9, not having memorized the old code set.

I teach medical coding to providers and in ICD-9, I could rattle off the codes as I was teaching and when a provider would ask me how to code something, I could often tell them without looking at a code book. Scary, I know, but true. And many of you can relate to that. Now when teaching ICD-10, I often have to stop and look up the code or sometimes, I will start to rattle off the old code and then stop myself. Old dog, new tricks. It’s time for new tricks.

I always say that opportunity often comes knocking disguised as challenge. For the career coder, this challenge of ICD-10 may indeed be the opportunity that you need to reach the next level. If you are a new coder and are intimidated by all those with established coding careers, just know that this stuff is new to us, too. This challenge is also our opportunity to learn and grow. That might mean additional education or a new credential. It could mean going back to school to freshen up on your anatomy or medical terminology.

Be willing to change in these changing times. Rise to the challenge. Seize the opportunity. The only constant is change.

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