Thursday, July 21, 2011

Evolution of the Coder Coach

I recently looked over my past blog postings to see what material I haven't covered. Well, there's a lot. And I realize my last few posts have been very heavy on ICD-10 - mainly because that's what I'm working on most of the time. It got me thinking, though - have I strayed from the initial intent of this blog? Who is my audience - current coders or future coders?

I have a friend and avid blogger (who's blog I am sorely behind in reading!) whom I consulted before I started the Coder Coach blog and I asked her, "What do I blog about?" She said, "Whatever you want!" Perfect! Because if I can't write about something I truly want to write about, what's the point of having a blog?! And today it really hit home - my audience has expanded.

I started the Coder Coach group and blog about 2 years ago because I identified an alarming trend. Schools are turning out coding professionals by the dozens and many of them are becoming certified. They spend a lot of time, money, and effort to get the training they will need to land them in a lucrative career only to have the doors of employers slammed in their faces because they lack experience. I've talked to my peers and we're all under regulatory pressures that make it difficult for us to train new employees. But can we ever really expect to hire someone who can truly hit the ground running without any training?

The Coder Coach isn't just this blog, it's also a Facebook group (where I post links to this blog and others) and it's a group of curious individuals in the Denver area who get together every couple of months to learn something about coding from a pro (not always me!) that goes above and beyond classroom learning. In my mind, the Coder Coach is helping to fill that big gap between school and experience.

But as I mentioned, my audience is growing. The unknown isn't just limited to coding students and new grads right now. The coding field is about to undergo a monster transition and at the same time, health information management (HIM) professionals are struggling with implementation of electronic health records (EHRs), health information exchanges (HIEs), and meaningful use standards. As an HIM professional and coder, I see and talk to many people who are paving the way for the future of these professions. My mother is a retired RHIT who was before her time - she retired about 10 years ago and before her retirement was really excited about the future of EHRs. When I tell her about what's going on in the field right now, she is in awe - we are just starting to realize what she had a vision for 15 years ago.

And as I've toured the state of Colorado, conducting outreach through our ICD-10 Task Force, I've had many HIM practitioners asking me questions that coding students ask me. Should they consider a change from the operational side of HIM to coding and what's the best way to do it? So I will try to give a good balance in my blog postings of basic things I think anyone interested in a coding career should know now along with what everyone seems to need - a little insight into what it will be like as an ICD-10 coder.

Happy evolving to all of us!