Making ICD-10 Training Fun at Your Medical Practice

February 10, 2015

From team competitions to your own game of Jeopardy!, training for the ICD-10 transition can be enjoyable for your medical practice.

Many practices are stressing over ICD-10 training - and spending lots of money on computer programs, outside training courses, and thanks to implementation delays, refresher courses. And no wonder. Good training is crucial. The better trained you are by Oct. 1, the less money you are likely to lose because of refused claims. In the stress of getting up to speed in time for the rollout, however, many people are approaching ICD-10 training with a grim determination that would rival that of the most draconian algebra teacher. It doesn't have to be this way.

Though it's a concept that may be new to people who spent four years in medical school and several more in residencies, people really do learn better when they're having fun. That applies to adults, not just kids. There's quite a body of research to back this up (you might think of it as evidence-based teaching). Read on for a few ideas for removing the stress and adding some fun to your ICD-10 training.

Group Study

While a certain amount of individual training is necessary, and some people learn best on their own, it can be both fun and effective to train in groups. Asia Blunt, an AAPC-certified coder and trainer, recommended dividing your team into groups and having them work on dummy claims. You can make it into a friendly competition. The team that gets the most codes right or completes them the fastest wins. Lunch is on the losing team. Or you can try dual coding. Let one team code in ICD-9 and the other in ICD-10. Switch the teams back and forth until the ICD-10 team is as fast as the ICD-9 team. Arranging for games might take a little more work than just plopping everyone down in front of a training program or handing them the code book, but the advantages are worth it.

If you really want to engage your team, you can get a little more creative. ICD-10 lends itself well to several popular game formats. You might try playing "ICD-10 Jeopardy!" You can tailor the categories to match your specialty and focus on the types of cases you most often see. "Double Jeopardy" would feature more challenging, less commonly seen claims. Bingo is another popular game that can be adapted to coding. The caller names the condition and the coders look for the code on their bingo cards.

And don't forget the rewards - another proven learning strategy. Give the winner a half-day off, Blunt suggested. Well, maybe this isn't the best time to be letting people off early. Perhaps a gift certificate to a local coffee shop would be a better idea.

Built-In Fun

Jeopardy and bingo and other familiar games are fun. But if you really want to get creative, you can make up your own fun and games. Jackie Stack, director of ICD-10 education and training for AAPC, suggested making up some crazy scenarios, perhaps tied to holidays or seasons, and having your team try to code them. For example: Patient with lamp shade stuck on head after holiday party, or Patient reports frequent headaches after visit from mother-in-law.

If you run out of silly ideas of your own, you might try looking in the ICD-10 book itself.

"The external cause codes have some really ridiculous things," said Stack. For example: "Pedestrian on roller-skates injured in collision with railway train or railway vehicle in non-traffic accident" and "Struck by macaw, sequela."

Yep those are really in there. See? You don't even have to try all that hard to make this fun.