Keeping Ahead of the ICD-10 Curve

michelle-tohillBy Michelle Tohill

Do you know what ICD-10 is and why it’s important to your medical practice?

If so, you’re part of only 12 percent of medical practices familiar with ICD-10 and its potential impact on practice revenue.

For those of you in the majority 88 percent, here’s what you need to know about ICD-10:

ICD-10 is the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), a medical classification list by the World Health Organization (WHO). It contains codes for diseases, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or diseases.” – Wikipedia/World Health Organization

We’re currently fortunate enough to get a reprieve from the demands of ICD-10 until October 1, 2015, mainly because implementation of the new coding system will explode the number of diagnosis codes from about 14,500 to about 69,700. But for many medical practices, 5 months feels like too little time to fully address the operational challenges posed by ICD-10, not to mention challenges related to project planning, financial management, productivity and communication.

Managers have to practice due diligence to ensure their office management software and EHR are ready for ICD-10. Cross-mapping for diagnosis codes is great, but for current ICD-9 diagnosis, there can be 10+ diagnostic codes for ICD-10. If your providers aren’t documenting properly, your billers and coders will never be able to determine the correct code. ICD-10 means doctors MUST document the entire visit with a level of meticulous attention to detail to which they may not be accustomed.

In order to stay ahead of the curve, it’s imperative to start training your billers, coders, and providers now. Start by creating a plan of action. The American Medical Association has a great plan online (you must be a member to access the plan), however, there many free plans available.

In short, ICD-10 means changes in payer policies, coding (like the new fracture coding guidelines for Ortho which are particularly frustrating!) and regulations. Talk to your billers, start training staff and make sure your providers know how ICD-10 will impact the way they work.

Elizabeth Deerinwater is Executive Manager of Physician Services of Bonafide Management Systems. She supports physicians in transitioning to and utilizing Bonafide’s software and billing services and is heavily involved in assisting new installments of Bonafide software and services, including training office staff and supporting physicians in implementing more efficient processes, lean management and overall practice management.

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