The state of medical billing and coding has been in flux for the past few years, mainly due to the implementation of the upcoming ICD-10 switch and the overall growth of the health insurance market because of the Affordable Care Act. However, as a result of these advancements, medical coding software and applications are expected to be the No. 1 promising sales opportunity within the health care industry.

According to the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's Analytics "Autumn 2014 edition of the US Hospital IT Market," computer assisted coding apps should see a lot of growth in hospital settings in the coming years. The report, which was released Oct. 15, is one of the leading publications and predictors of health IT in hospitals across the U.S.

Based on HIMSS Analytics data, 25 support service apps and medical devices are gaining steam in U.S. hospitals when it comes to market growth. Of these dozen or so industries, computer assisted coding was the top pick as having the most impressive marketing potential. For those in the health IT industry, this news means that providers and patients are expected to embrace many forms of technology as the medical industry in the U.S. becomes increasingly sophisticated.

Details of the report
The reason why these findings are of importance in the medical industry is because the report covered market utilization of these products in more than 5,400 hospitals in the U.S. As a result, these innovations are already working in real time. The report was comprehensive and covered many different categories of the health care industry, including:

  • Medical devices
  • Home health
  • Health information management
  • Health information exchange
  • Document/'forms management
  • Ambulatory services
  • Clinical and business intelligence
  • IS Security
  • IS Infrastructure

Eleven of the 25 applications that were reviewed were described as standard business tools, as they were correlated with high marketing capabilities. Another five applications were also projected to boast a healthy growth rate over the next five years. This means that the health care marketplace is expected to take several noted turns, but the spending in health IT should remain strong.

"In preparation for the shift to ICD-10, it is no surprise that the sales potential for coding solutions is high," said Lorren Pettit, vice president of market research for HIMSS Analytics, said in a news release. "The findings suggest that market opportunities are ripe for vendors with Computer Assisted Coding solutions.

It's true that many hospitals as well as practices are striving to prepare for the ICD-10 switch, which is expected to take place next fall. During the shift from ICD-9, health care providers will have to become familiar with code sets for new diseases and procedures within the health care marketplace. Additionally, 14,000 code sets will be swapped out for 69,000 new medical codes. Obviously, the need for medical coding software is apparent and already driving sales potential.

These advancements can help small and large practices alike and, according to this HIMSS report, could become standardized with providers over the next 5 to 10 years. This means that it is in physicians and staffs' best interests to upgrade their practice with coding applications to keep up with patient needs and market demands.