The following is a guest post by Mike Crider
As we all know by now, the deadline for converting to ICD-10 has been delayed until October 2015. Although the deadline is more than a year away, the transition requires a great deal of work and with this new code set, the largest financial system change will take place since the Prospective Payment System (PPS) in 1983. This change has to take place for several reasons including that with a maximum of 13,000 codes, ICD-9 is not specific enough for detailed diagnoses and the current codes do not reflect new services and technology in CMS payment systems. With over 171,000 codes, ICD-10 will provide much more detailed clinical pictures and data, improving accuracy in all aspects of patient care.
The transition will not only impact healthcare organizations, but also physicians, for whom it will be particularly beneficial. Physicians will be able to determine the severity of illnesses more clearly, and therefore quantify the level of care more accurately. The codes will also create an electronic trail of documentation, which can help physicians receive proper payment and ensure their reputation remains in good standing.
While the delay is an inconvenience to some, it is also providing valuable extra preparation time to others. As with any major transition, the delay has its pros and cons, as outlined below.
- Medical coding staff using ICD-10 will require much more specific information from doctors, including added details about procedures and complications from certain conditions. Directors can work with nurses and doctors to improve documentation now so that extrapolating the right code from the patient’s records can be easier for office staff.
- Administrators will be able to ease the physicians into the transition more gradually, as queries will be based on ICD-10 concepts, with the intent to reinforce the information needed.
- Additional ‘practice time’ has been created for coders.
- With this new timeline testing can be more methodical, ensuring success for the October 2015 implementation.
- The increase in time before implementation allows providers to make financial preparations, in the form of a cash reserve, more attainable.
- Costs for the ICD-10 delay will be high for many hospitals and health groups. The moving goal line is a significant distraction to providers and inappropriately invokes massive additional investments of time and money.
- Given the fact that this is the second delay, it will be very hard to convince physicians and leadership to take the program seriously and invest the additional time and dollars to get staff ready for the ICD-10 conversion when it finally happens.
- Frustration in how politics impacts healthcare policy and initiatives may lead to increased apathy in the very talented leaders of this industry who are dedicated to moving it forward to a better place. A delay like this may just send them into another field, or worse, into a state of inaction.
- The delay will cause additional confusion for colleges and technical programs as to what they should be teaching. Students already have been trained in ICD-10 and are now forced to use ICD-9-CM when they enter the work force. This will be a distracting set-back for staff and students.
With the importance and significance of this transition, it is crucial that ample preparations are made.
Mike Crider is Vice President of Sales at Meditab Software. Established in 1998, Meditab Software Inc., developers of IMS (Intelligent Medical Software), offers clinical automation systems that maximize productivity, advance patient care, manage utilization, and reduce costs.
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