One of the major areas of concern for practices and providers these days is the shift from ICD-9 codes to ICD-10 codes. This change, being managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), has an implementation deadline of October 1, 2014. With less than a year to go before ICD-10 takes over, practices and physicians are gearing themselves up for newer, better codes.
It is not just about the increase in the number of codes in ICD-10 that is an area of concern for physicians; but the expansion of those codes to allow alphanumeric classifications as well. Support staff, nurses, practitioners and everyone else will have to start learning these codes sooner rather than later because it is a long process and will take plenty of time and practice to get used to.
So what will practices and providers have to sacrifice when switching to the new system of disease classification? Why should they do it at all? What will their reward be? Let’s try to answer these questions in detail.
Unlearn and relearn
One of the most important steps in shifting to any new system is the ability to unlearn and relearn. This is perhaps the single most important factor which will determine the level of success with ICD-10 codes. It will require a concrete effort on practices’ part to unlearn the old ICD-9 codes and then relearn the newer ones. Practices must understand that they need to start the process now since it will take months to finish.
Discover important codes
Another important area as far as the practices are concerned is their ability to discover codes which are important to their practice. The ICD-10 codes comprise of almost 68,000 new codes but practices do not need to memorize each and every one of them. They need to focus on the ones that are important to their practice and try to get a better understanding about them.
Determine codes that have the highest revenue return
Some codes used in billing offer the highest return to practices and they need to make sure they practice those important ones really well. This will make sure that practices do not suffer with their revenues and keep their cash flows running. It is very likely that claim rejections increase once payers change their reimbursement policies because of ICD-10. Practices need to train the staff well in advance to make sure they understand clinical documentation and process the codes accurately.
Delivery of better care
One of the rewards of using ICD-10 codes is that practices, physicians, healthcare centers and hospitals will be better equipped to deliver quality care to the patients. They will be able to classify diseases in a much more efficient and precise manner. The new system of codes will make sure the level of quality delivered is at par with international standards.
Ongoing maintenance of system
One of the biggest problems with ICD-9 is that it does not have more room for expansion.. ICD-10 solves this area as it can allow regular updates and additions to the system by healthcare professionals.
Physicians, practices, providers, payers, radiology/imaging services, labs, pharmacies, healthcare centers and patients will be able to take advantage of a uniform set of codes used for classification of diseases throughout the entire country.
The shift to ICD-10 is a tough one, but it is the only way forward for the healthcare industry if it is to provide quality care at every point of service.