To the outside world, it’s the coding system that allows for the classification of diagnoses and procedures, used by the medical community nationally and internationally. To the 75 people who traveled to Kindred’s Support Center for a two-day Annual Coding Services Education Meeting, it’s simply known as the annual coding update to ICD (International Classification of Diseases), and more specifically ICD-10, the tenth revision of the guidelines, which was this year’s hot-button subject. And, importantly, it’s their critical piece of the Kindred mission of providing hope, healing and recovery.

 Annual Coding Services Education Attendees Annual Coding Services Education Attendees

Each year, Kindred’s 38 Hospital Division coders, who work remotely from home bases all over the country, from Louisville, to Pennsylvania, to California, sometimes covering several Kindred hospitals, travel to the Support Center for an annual meeting that focuses on important components of their work as coders. Implementation of ICD-10 won’t happen until October 2014, but there are important changes that coders will need to understand fully before then, so starting early is advisable. In fact, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently issued a recommendation that providers start planning as soon as possible.

Coders were educated by Nelly Leon-Chisen and Gretchen Young-Charles of the American Hospital Association, on ICD-10-CM, used for diagnoses, and ICD-10-PCS, for procedures. ICD-10-PCS will exhibit the most changes.

Participants were welcomed by Kelli Cole, new Hospital Division Vice President for Case Management, who commended them on strides made over the past several years, especially in terms of communication between coders, clinical documentation improvement (CDI) specialists, case managers and staff at the facilities. She also shared a video about Kindred patient Kelly Downing, who was treated at Kindred Nursing and Rehabilitation Greenbriar.

“We can’t lose sight of what we do for patients every day,” she said. “Our patients deserve to have their story told completely and accurately, and coded properly. Our physicians and our teams strive for this goal for every patient, every day.”

Cole added, “I hope you believe, as I do, that this team is strong and can successfully implement the coding changes coming in 2014.”

Coder Erica Graziosi and CDI specialist Sylvia Ramirez addressed the group together, highlighting the importance of the team approach and enhanced communication.

Then it was down to business, with a lot of information covered in just a day and a half. What’s not changing with the move to ICD-10 is as important as what is, and presenters discussed that as well. Signs and symptoms integral to a condition and other types of clinical information were used as examples.

The information was comprehensive, touching on areas that may not affect Kindred’s patient population as much as it would patients in an acute care hospital, but when the topic turned to vent weaning, the room exploded with questions, revealing the enthusiasm and pride the coders take in doing a good job.

On the second day, the group was addressed by Jeffrey Jasnoff, Senior Vice President of Human Resources Operations, who underscored the importance of the work the coders do and their significance to Kindred’s mission.

When the meeting adjourned, many of the coders headed back to the airport, back to their home offices, to get right back to doing the vital work they do each day.

Annual Coding Services Education Attendees