Three Advantages of Self-Paced Online ICD-10 Training

March 26, 2014

Here are some key reasons why medical practices should consider self-paced ICD-10 training for physicians and staff.

Self-paced online training has taken off in a variety of regulation-heavy industries, from financial to pharmaceutical.

It's easy to see why. Technology has evolved to the point where slowdowns and system crashes are less frequent, and multimedia presentations are practically as good as real-life ones. And in healthcare, self-paced online training can have huge advantages - especially for practices that need to train physicians and staff on ICD-10 in the most cost-effective way possible.

While in-person training offers practice staff a chance to meet peers and network professionally, it doesn't make sense for most small practices, Minnette Terlep, vice president of business development and chief compliance officer for Amphion, a coding consulting company that offers self-paced online training, told Physicians Practice.

"There are a variety of ways to become familiar with ICD-10,"said Terlep. "The advantages [of in-person training] are fast going by the wayside because technology is providing training in a much more effective timeframe than taking time off to go to in-person seminars."

Rhonda Buckholtz, vice president of ICD-10 education and training for the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), said that for busy working professionals who may not be able to take a lot of time off work, online training is a great solution.

"Online training options tend to be a little cheaper and follow a more flexible, self-paced format," said Buckholtz. "Online training also allows for the user to go back and listen to concepts they are struggling with for additional reinforcement."

Here are three advantages medical practices should consider when it comes to online training to prepare for the ICD-10 transition on Oct. 1, 2014.

1. Convenience. Attending an offsite training course can be inconvenient for busy physicians and other professionals, especially those with families. And while hosting in-practice webinars, say, during lunch hour, provides a nice "lunch and learn" opportunity, it can add stress to an already busy day or week, suggested Terlep. Self-paced online training, meanwhile, can be done anytime and anywhere. "For coders working in physician offices, they may not have time during the day to be able to participate in either live training or Web-based live training," said Terlep. "A self-paced approach is very good because it can be done at the coder's pace … it makes it a very easy way for the coder to get the same education she would by attending."

2. Cost. Sending staff or physicians offsite to train affects a practice's bottom line perhaps most drastically: From flights to hotels to meal expenses, not to mention the cost of course participation, a practice that fronts money for its staff to learn ICD-10 could rack up thousands of dollars in bills. Both webinars and self-paced online training programs eliminate these costs, said Terlep.

3. Pacing. Perhaps the most noticeable difference between webinar-based training and self-paced training is that the former assumes a certain level of knowledge and ability to absorb information. But whether it's learning to sew or learning ICD-10, not everyone learns at the same pace. To ensure information is accurately absorbed, most all self-paced online training programs include both the ability to go through modules as slowly as staff wish as well as exercises where a coder can test her knowledge. "The user gets to determine when they get to the next slide or go to the previous slide," Rachel Jorgensen, coding support manager for Amphion, told Physicians Practice. "And each time they go to a new slide, they hear a narrative … from an approved ICD-10 trainer. When I learn I really like to learn and know exactly what I'm hearing and seeing, so that's a huge benefit."

However, while self-paced online training offers plenty of advantages, Buckholtz warns that there are some disadvantages, too.

"Such trainings don’t involve human interaction or [question and answer sessions], so purchasers are on their own to make sure they understand all the education, and they also miss out on networking possibilities," she told Physicians Practice. " Individuals need to assess what training works best for their specific learning styles, needs, budgets, and schedules.”