The ICD-10 medical coding is getting implemented today and implementation date is here and now there is no way of avoiding it. From today on physicians and hospitals across the country will have to start using the new medical coding system to describe patient visits on insurance claims to ensure reimbursement. The new coding system was introduced with the prime objective of improving public health research and emergency response times by facilitating early diagnosis and tracking adverse drug events.
Presently, US healthcare providers use the ICD-9 coding system comprising roughly 14,000 codes to designate diagnoses for reimbursement purposes and in medical databases. When compared to this, ICD-10 medical codes are far more specific and numerous and include more than 68,000 codes. It is expected that the long-awaited changes will provide greater flexibility in the medical claims auditing and quality reporting process as the medical community gains adequate experience in using the new ICD-10 code set. In addition, it can spot early warning signs of a brewing outbreak or look for illness or injury trends.
ICD-10 – the 10th edition of the International Classification of Diseases includes codes that flag new strains of flu, for instance and even Ebola. With a higher focus on sports concussions, the new codes can reflect how long patients lost consciousness and if they required repeated care.
Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services points out that “ICD-10 has the potential to create many improvements in our public health system.”
It is imperative for physician practices to take adequate steps beforehand to get ready for the transition.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is adopting policies to ease the transition to ICD-10 in response to physicians’ concerns that inadvertent coding errors or system glitches during the transition period may result in audits, claim denials, and penalties under various Medicare reporting programs. CMS has provided extensive guidelines related to ICD-10 transition. The new codes are easily available and AAPC has an online code translator.
However, CMS can’t estimate how many healthcare providers are prepared for ICD-10 documentation but officials think that most large practices and hospitals are ready for the switch and so the agency is intensifying its focus on smaller physicians’ offices. In addition, CMS has promised some amount of flexibility during the first year of medical claims processing, provided the coding is close.