ICD-10 Training: What You Need to Know

Lea Chatham September 23rd, 2013

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By Lisa A. Eramo

CMS has been clear about the fact that October 1, 2014 is the big day for ICD-10. Yet many physician practices are still lagging behind in terms of training, says Deborah Grider CCS-P CDIP CPC CPMA CPC-H CPC-P, senior manager of revenue cycle at Blue and Company in Indianapolis, Ind. and an AHIMA ICD-10-CM/PCS-approved trainer.

Grider, who provides ICD-10 specialty-specific training for providers and staff in the practice setting, says ongoing education is a crucial part of successful implementation. She offers insight into what practices need to do now and how much it may cost.

ICD-10 training: The Who
Many physicians incorrectly assume that only coders require ICD-10 training. However, ICD-10 affects virtually everyone else in the practice, including billers, physicians, secretaries/front desk personnel, and medical assistants. It’s important to understand how ICD-10 may affect each of these roles and then cater training accordingly.

ICD-10 training: The What
Role-based training is the most effective way to prepare your practice. Overall costs for that training will largely depend on the number of individuals who must be trained. Consider the following:


  • Training: Plan for at least two days of in-depth training. The first day should include information about ICD-10 guidelines and code structure. The second day should include hands-on coding using actual case studies. Some coders may also require anatomy and physiology training or at least a refresher. This training is worthwhile because of the clinical and anatomical nature and specificity of ICD-10.
  • Cost: Budget for $695-$1,200 per coder for the two-day training. This fee likely includes a coding manual and workbook. Anatomy and physiology training could cost as much as an additional $1,500 per coder, but it will be well worth the money spent. Also determine whether—and how much—your practice will pay coders for any overtime that’s required to accomplish the training.


  • Training: Plan for a one-day training (6-8 hours) about ICD-10 basics (code structure and logic).
  • Cost: $250-$299 per biller. This fee may or may not include a coding manual and workbook.


  • Training: Physicians require training on clinical documentation requirements related to their specialty as well as tutorials on how to use updated EHR templates that may affect workflow. This training may require one or more days.
  • Cost: $500 per physician.

Secretary/Front Desk Personnel

  • Training: Plan for a one-day training (6-8 hours) about ICD-10 basics (code structure and logic).
  • Cost: $250-$299 per employee. This fee may or may not include a coding manual and workbook.

Medical Assistants

  • Training: Plan for a one-day training (6-8 hours) about ICD-10 basics (code structure and logic).
  • Cost: $250-$299 per employee. This fee may or may not include a coding manual and workbook.

ICD-10 training: The When
ICD-10 training should begin as soon as possible. Not only does this give staff members more time to adjust to the new code set, but it also helps to mitigate any productivity losses during the training period. Training can be incremental and staggered so as not to affect daily responsibilities, particularly in smaller practices.

Proactive training also ensures that practices can find a certified and experienced trainer. Currently, there is a shortage of trainers. Always inquire about a trainer’s specific certification and experience when hiring someone.

ICD-10 training: The Where
AHIMA, the American Academy of Professional Coders, and a variety of other educational providers offer training that is specific to coders, physicians, or office/clinic (non-coding) staff members. Opportunities range from online learning to audio conferences to live events, and more.

Many physicians are also relying on their medical societies for training, some of which may include CME credits. It may be more cost-effective for large practices to bring an ICD-10 certified trainer to build a training program and provide that training on-site.

ICD-10 training: The Why
Most physicians understand the need to train coders, as they are the ones who will use the codes most directly and frequently. Properly trained coders can also help answer physicians’ questions about ICD-10 as they arise.

However, consider the following reasons to train other staff members: 

  • Billers: Billers can use basic ICD-10 coding knowledge to properly handle rejected, denied, or suspended ICD-10 claims.
  • Secretary/Front Desk Personnel: These personnel can answer patients’ basic questions about billing matters or diagnoses. They can also catch errors on a superbill, such as a missing character in an ICD-10 code.
  • Medical Assistants: Medical assistants can properly administer Advanced Beneficiary Notices using correct ICD-10 diagnosis codes. Because of their clinical background, they may also be able to assist physicians with clinical documentation necessary to justify the ICD-10 codes.

Other Considerations
Practices will require a cash reserve to accomplish this training. Set aside the money in advance or establish a loan or line of credit. Keep in mind that the initial training may not be sufficient and that additional training may be necessary after go-live.

AHIMA teamed up with the American Medical Association to provide a physician model for implementing ICD-10 that includes a phased-approach as well as training resources.

About the Author

Lisa Eramo Freelance

Lisa A. Eramo (leramo@hotmail.com) is a freelance writer and editor based in Cranston, RI who specializes in healthcare regulatory topics, health information management, and medical coding.

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