Despite years of development, the use of automated coding systems is still far from commonplace. The technology is much more prevalent among physician group practices than hospitals, primarily because outpatient claims are so much simpler to code.

The looming shift to more complex ICD-10 codes in 2013 could stir up interest in the applications because all providers will use the new codes when filing claims with all payers. The greater level of precision in the codes likely will improve the performance of computer-assisted coding applications and make them easier to use, says Sue Bowman, director of coding policy and compliance at the American Health Information Management Association, Chicago. "We're going to see much better and more sophisticated inpatient computer-assisted coding once ICD-10 is implemented," she predicts.

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