There is some speculation and anecdotal evidence suggesting that a substantial number of the more experienced, long-term coders are going to retire rather than retooling for ICD-10. While there will be some that take the early retirement route, it is my contention that these numbers will be few.
Coding is a puzzle and has always had new changes…every October 1st. Furthermore, coders are inherently problem solvers. Most, I believe, will step up to the challenge that ICD-10 and the changes to CDI will bring.
Keep in mind you may still need a few top of the line ICD-9 coders for some time to come. For starters not all health plans must transition to ICD-10. Non-covered entities do not maintain HIPAA compliance can opt to remain on ICD-9 as they do not send electronic claims.
There will also be RAC audits with three-year look back periods—another area for ICD-9 coding expertise. Finally, ICD-9 coders could be placed in the centralized business office to help with ICD-9 denials.
Given the scarcity of experienced coders, it may behoove you to incent some ICD-10 naysayers to remain on board for a few more years. It’s just another staffing strategy to consider during these tumultuous times.