The plan for U.S. healthcare professionals to catch up with the rest of the world and transition to ICD-10 has been in motion for years. Conversion efforts, however, have kept getting pushed back as providers struggle to undertake other health IT mandates, such as e-prescribing and EMR implementation. While there’s still time to take on ICD-10, doctors need to start preparing now, as the new process will likely require updating current equipment, extensive education for doctors and medical staff, as well as coding and accounts receivable training.
What is ICD-10?
The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems is a medical coding system maintained by the World Health Organization, and ICD-10 is the latest revision.
When is the deadline for implementing the new system?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has proposed extending the compliance deadline to October 1, 2014, though the final rule is still up for revision. Keep an eye out for a definite date in the coming months.
What differences can I expect from ICD-9 to ICD-10?
ICD-9 includes 13,000 diagnosis codes and 11,000 procedure codes, meanwhile the codes for ICD-10 jump to 68,000 and 87,000 respectively. The numbers may seem overwhelming, but many of the new codes are only slightly different. Roughly 25 percent of ICD-10 codes, for example, only differ in that they specify a side of the body. Another 25 percent of codes vary in how they distinguish between an initial encounter, subsequent encounter, and sequelae (conditions resulting from another disease, injury or event). For instance, with the new system, doctors will be able to use a single code to report an initial fracture, follow-up of fracture healing normally, or follow-up with fracture in malunion.
What can I do to prepare?
Besides setting aside time for medical coding and accounts receivable training, healthcare professionals may also find themselves having to upgrade, replace, or buy new hardware or software. Computer-assisted coding tools can help generate medical codes automatically from your EMR, though staff members who are already used to ICD-9 should be able to grasp the new changes fairly easily. Either way, it’s best to plan ahead for any changes that need to be made in order to comply with new regulations. Providers who want to start preparing early will want to outline a transition plan taking into account practice needs. Coordinate with your revenue cycle management company, EMR vendor, and IT department to make sure everyone is making proper preparations.
For transition resources from CMS, go to www.cms.gov/ICD10.