Outsource Strategies International (OSI), based in Tulsa, Oklahoma has extensive experience in providing medical coding services for diverse medical specialties including infectious diseases, chiropractic, orthopedic, dermatology and more.

In today’s podcast, Natalie Tornese, one of our Senior Solutions Managers, discusses the coronavirus outbreak.

In this episode:

00:17 Novel coronavirus (nCoV) – The Serious Concern

As the outbreak continues to spread in the city of Wuhan in China and outside China, The World Health Organization (WHO) recently declared the new coronavirus as a global emergency.

02:43 Symptoms of nCoV

One of the major symptoms is pneumonia. Other respiratory symptoms may include cough, fever, a runny nose or sore throat. Symptoms will vary.

03:26 Diagnosis and recovery

Diagnosis involves physical exam and testing of respiratory fluids and blood. No vaccine is still developed and the recovery depends on the strength of one’s immune system.

04:41 WHO recommends precautions

WHO recommends simple precautions to prevent spread of the virus, like washing hands frequently, covering mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing and more.

Read Transcript

Hello everyone and welcome to our podcast series. My name is Natalie Tornese and I’m a Senior Solutions Manager at Outsource Strategies International (OSI). I wanted to take this time to talk about the coronavirus.

Recently, news media became flooded with reports of the outbreak of a novel coronavirus (nCoV) in the city of Wuhan in China. As the outbreak continues to spread and now represents a risk outside China, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the new coronavirus as a global emergency.

On December 31, WHO was alerted to several cases of pneumonia in Wuhan City. One week later, on January 7, Chinese authorities confirmed that they had identified a new virus. The new virus belongs to the large family of coronaviruses that cause illnesses such as the common cold, and more severe diseases such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome). However, this virus did not match any other known virus. This has raised serious concern because when a new virus appears, the severity of its effect on people cannot be generally understood or measured.

The new virus has causes respiratory illness of varying severity. Latest reports (as of January 31, 2020) say that there are about 9800 confirmed cases of nCoV in mainland China. The death toll from the novel coronavirus outbreak continues to rise. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 98 international cases has been reported in 18 other countries, but no deaths. The potency and movement of the virus has rallied the cooperation of the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies to effectively combat it.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), corona viruses are responsible for 15 to 30 percent of common colds. Like other viruses, it originated from animals. They are called coronaviruses because under a microscope, the viruses have crown-like spikes protruding from their surfaces. These spikes affect the way a virus binds onto a host cell and infects it. These are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. People in China infected with nCoV either worked or frequently shopped in the Huanan seafood wholesale market in the centre of the Chinese city which sold live or newly slaughtered animals.

The symptoms of nCoV may appear in as few as 2 days or after 14 days of exposure. One of the common symptoms associated with this infectious disease is pneumonia. Persons who get infected are reported to suffer other respiratory symptoms that can include cough, fever, breathing difficulties, sneezing, a runny nose, fatigue, sore throat and where the asthma becomes exacerbated. In severe cases there can even be organ failure. Severe infections are more common in people with heart or lung diseases, people with weakened immune systems, infants, and older adults.

These infections can be diagnosed through a physical exam and a complete medical history and review of symptoms. The virus responsible can be diagnosed by taking a sample of respiratory fluids, such as mucus from the nose, or blood. There is no cure for this virus infection, but treatment includes over-the-counter medications (like acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to reduce pain and fever), adequate rest, drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding smoking and using a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer. Recovery of a patient will depend on the strength of their immune system, as many of those people who died were known to have been already in poor health.

Billing and coding for this infectious disease could be complex as there are several rules related to reporting the condition correctly.

I will include a transcript along with this podcast, outlining the specific ICD-10 coding related to this virus.

A key concern is the range of severity of symptoms – some people appear to suffer only mild illness while others are becoming severely ill. This makes it more difficult to establish the true numbers infected and the extent of transmission between people.

There is no vaccine available that can prevent the spread of this new coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends people to take simple precautions in order to reduce exposure to and transmission of the virus. Some of the top prevention strategies include - washing your hands thoroughly and frequently, covering your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue when sneezing or coughing, avoiding close contact with anyone who has a fever or cough, avoiding direct, unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals, avoiding consumption of raw or undercooked animal products and avoiding contact with people displaying symptoms. People who are living in or traveling to nCoV to China outbreak areas should consider wearing masks to prevent the spread of virus.

I hope this helps but always remember that documentation and a thorough knowledge of payer regulations and guidelines is critical to ensure accurate reimbursement for the procedures performed.

 

Thank you for listening!