Comments on the use of the TurboCoder by ICD-10-AM students

Anna Coote HIM, Grad Dip Adult Education

The following comments are based on my recent experience of teaching ICD-10-AM 6th Edition to students who have never undertaken Clinical Coding before. There are, as always, positive aspects and negative aspects to most products in education, as in products in everyday life.

The aim of ICD-10-AM Education

If a tool is to be assessed for its usefulness in education, the aim of the education should first be determined. I would suggest that the aim of ICD-10-AM education is to teach students to accurately and efficiently assign ICD-10 codes to conditions and procedures. The TurboCoder will be assessed using this criteria, as any other statements about the skills required of the graduate student will inevitably be directed towards the reqirement for accurate and efficient code determination.

Access to the product - the students had no difficulty finding the product, and downloading it. There was no wait time for delivery.

Navigation Quick Start

This screen appears on start-up of the TurboCoder. Students tend to go immediately past this screen, to access the product, resulting in them not learning the "add-on" useful aspects of the product (e.g. the annotate/bookmark function). It may be useful to increase the size of this screen at initial start-up, and add a title that indicates to the student that they should read this material. It may also be useful to include the picture of the relevant icon next to the material which refers to it.

Search function

At the start of the learning process for ICD-10, students are still grappling with the concepts of Lead Terms and Modifiers. In their early exercises the students using the TurboCoder made mistakes because they did not understand the importance of Lead Terms. As an educator of ICD-10 I was unaware when I first had students using the product that I would need to walk them through the search options in the TurboCoder. Nevertheless it was a good educational exercise, as by learning the search options in the TurboCoder, and viewing the different results obtained using the different search options, the students obtained a very good understanding of the function of Lead Terms. It may be useful to add information on the search options into the Navigation Quick Start screen.

Pre-emptive search spelling help (PSSH)

The PSSH is helpful to students whose first language is not English, and in general to students who are learning medical vocabulary. Educators cannot ignore the special needs of NESB students. The necessity for coders to be able to spell medical words is because they need to find the words in the index, not because they need to be able to write the words themselves. The availability of the PSSH assists students with learning the spelling of medical words.

Using the ACS - comparing paper book use with TurboCoder use

I did not become aware of any difference for the students in accessing and using the ACS during their learning process, other than the obvious advantage for all TurboCoder users of being able to search either the ACS number or the ACS title. The students using the TurboCoder had the advantage when trying to find the definition of, for example, a "clinician" as they were able to search for that term "everywhere" and easily find the definition.

Using the Indices

Once students using the TurboCoder had learnt the importance of Lead Terms, and the functionality of modifiers, they were able to efficiently navigate the indices, giving them an advantage over the students using the paper books. The left hand navigation panel is very helpful for the students in understanding the structure of the index. One of the competencies for the trainee Clinical Coder is to be able to complete coding (accurately) within a given timeframe, made easier for students using the TurboCoder.

Using the Tabular List

Students using the paper version of ICD were more likely to remember to view the Includes, Excludes, and Notes documentation at the start of 3 digit code headings, resulting in correct code assignment. Students using the TurboCoder were less likely to view this documentation, but to assign the code that appeared at the top of the screen after clicking on the code in the index.


There are no educational disadvantages to using the TurboCoder as opposed to using the paper books, the material in the TurboCoder is presented in the same format as in the books, and no educational material is lost to the student by using the TurboCoder.

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