Thursday, October 30, 2014

Medical Coding Professionals in High Demand Due to Recent Federal Changes

Recently I came across this article on CNBC that highlights the growing demand for medical coders. The article titled, “Prescription for job growth: Medical coders in demand” discusses the dramatic shortage of skilled workers due in large part to a coming adoption of a new federally mandated coding standard.

To get an insider’s perspective, I turned to Kim Felix, an adjunct faculty member at Peirce College who is also a medical director at IOD Inc., where she trains coders and provides them with real-world experience as they transition into medical coding careers. I wanted to find out her thoughts on the job market and how to students can best prepare for the growing demand.

To begin, let’s look a little closer at the change in coding standards that is contributing to this demand. The current coding standard is ICD-9, which uses over 17,000 codes. However, the new code, set to be adopted in October 2015 will use over 140,000 codes and will provide more details on “the diagnoses, treatments and outcomes a coder records from a doctor's notes, procedure recommendations and patients lab results.” Because of this tremendous addition of new codes, medical facilities estimate that productivity will be decreased by up to 50%, creating a surge in demand for skilled coders.

In regards to the demand these changes will bring, Kim Felix adds:

“Everybody is gearing up because the productivity expectations will significantly decrease from ICD-9 to ICD-10. It’s a new system, although a lot of diagnosis pieces are the same, but the procedure part of ICD -10 is overwhelming, making it very intense. The codes are very specific so students will need to know even more about things like physiology, anatomy and medical terminology. These changes are really going to ramp up things and decrease productivity from 20-50%, depending on the size of the hospital. If you’re at a large level 4 trauma center in the middle of the city, you’re going to have some challenges and much less productivity. Medical facilities are already thinking, ‘How much do I have to increase my staff?’ We’ll never be at the same productivity level with ICD-10 as we were with ICD-9, and this is creating demand for smart, good coders that know what they’re doing.

I saw last year a tremendous increase in the need for coders in Q4 when ICD-10 was supposed to come around this year. So we anticipate over the next few months and years for that same thing to happen. Because of this, employers are looking to grab students out of medical coding programs, preferably American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) approved, and train them on ICD-10 so that they’re prepared to meet this demand.”

So how do you prepare for a career as a medical coder? In addition to a Medical Coding Certificate, students can sit for the (AHIMA) Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) Exam – an important first step for many careers. Some choose to continue their studies by pursuing an associate’s in Health Information Technology.

Felix states that the best coders are very independent, trusted, and have a high familiarity with computers. They’ll need to be able to learn hospital software since they typically have to be in at least three software systems at a given time. Medical coders also need very strong attention to detail and great decision making skills since some guidelines have gray areas, “you have to be able to see this gray through the black and white,” she adds.

She ends by saying that students entering the field will never want for a job and that most coders have more than one job because the demand is so high.

Kim Felix is an Adjunct Faculty member at Peirce. She also works full time as the Director of Education for IOD Inc., a Health Information Management vendor. In this role she’s fully responsible for training new coders, through webinars and real-world training. And of course, she’s busy with ICD-10 education for clients as well as internal staff.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Preparing for the Job Market of 2020

Although it’s only 5 years away, the workforce of 2020 will look a lot different than it does today. From the real-time nature of our connected society to the explosion of internet connected devices, we’re already starting to see how these changes are impacting jobs in every career field. Some of these changes include the technology we use to do our jobs, the virtual location of our jobs, and the way we collaborate with team members and other colleagues. These changes will only continue to accelerate over the next few years.

Perhaps one of the biggest changes we’ll see impacting all careers will be the exponential amount of data that’s being created and the way companies leverage this data throughout their organization. This data will be generated from the web, mobile devices, wearable devices, connected products such as cars, and the supercomputers used to power all of these devices.

The specific impact and skill sets will vary depending on what field you’re working in, but most experts agree that there is a core set that will be common to a wide variety of industries. These skills will benefit you throughout your career as you transfer from position to position.

Among these skills that will be critical to success in 2020 and beyond include:

The ability to think strategically in real time – The amount of information that will be generated and will need to be processed and acted upon will require employees to balance strategic thinking with quick action. From healthcare technology and medical coding to IT and business administration, every industry will be impacted by an overwhelming amount of digital data. This information will need to be interpreted quickly and strategic decisions made in real-time.

The ability to visualize patterns and trends – In the age of big data, more and more companies will begin using this data to influence decisions. Being able to understand how the data creates meaningful patterns and trends will play a critical role in the success of companies. We’re already starting to see pattern and trend visualization based on real-time data have an impact in places that were previously unimaginable. For example, the CDC is currently using Twitter and other social channels to track and diagnose epidemics while businesses are using data to predict customer needs before the customer even realizes it.

Ongoing Innovation – The employees of 2020 will realize that innovation isn’t merely a sudden burst of insight, but rather an ongoing process where one innovation lays the foundation for the next innovation. In such fluid and dynamic work environments, employees will be tasked with constantly finding new ways of improving productivity, cutting costs, and assisting with development and research.

Although 2020 is still five years away, there are still things you can do today to position yourself for success in the future workforce. To begin with, follow your industry to determine where future talent will be most needed. This will help you to stay on top of the latest innovations in your field and determine what skills will be needed to seize opportunities related to these innovations. Staying current with popular industry blogs, following thought leaders on Twitter in your field, or joining industry groups on LinkedIn is a great way to do this.

To find out what specific skills are needed to succeed today, and how to use those skills to build a foundation for future success, be sure to take a look at our Leadership Series.

What are your thoughts on the future of the workforce? What’s the biggest change you see coming to your career field?


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

THE REAL DEAL: Peirce Greek Reunion Recap

Imagine being in a room filled to the brim with a group of people who were part of one of the most fun, rewarding periods of your life. Sound like a dream? If you were a member of a fraternity or sorority at Peirce from the 50s through the 80s, the Peirce Greek Reunion on October 19 was indeed the real deal.

The event brought together 140 members of the school’s Greek community for an unprecedented celebration of the ties that bind, Peirce-style. Brothers and sisters representing four decades of the Greek experience gathered at Galdo’s Catering in South Philadelphia.

Old friends – some of whom had not seen each for decades- joyfully reconnected, swapped stories, and caught up with one another. College president Jim Mergiotti welcomed the guests and Peirce legend Ray Palzer’52 shared his heartfelt, funny memories of the Greek community. Add a cocktail reception, a festive meal, and dancing (there was *a lot* of dancing), and you had a very memorable experience for some very happy Peirce alumni.

“What a wonderful evening - we were all 19 years old again”, Gene Fazzie ’70 said of the reunion. Fazzie and his co-chair Carl Grozinski ’69 worked with an active committee of their fellow Greeks for over a year to plan reunion. As they were leaving the Reunion, guests were abuzz with talk of not if, but when the next reunion will take place. Stay tuned!

Enjoy this photo album of the Peirce Greek Reunion, and if you would like to be a part of planning future events, contact me at the Alumni Office by email or 215-670-9003).