December 10th, 2015

ICD-10 – Easing the Transition

With new medicines, treatments and technologies, the healthcare industry moves at a furious speed. It’s not only doctors, nurses and pharmacists that need to keep pace; it’s also all of us that work as non-clinical healthcare professionals, including administrators, billers, counselors, educators, secretaries, specialists and more.

Today, there’s reason to focus on medical coders. With the 10th and newest revision of the World Health Organization’s International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) required as of October 1, 2015, healthcare systems—and coders—are being put to the test. There are thousands of codes for diseases, symptoms and more, and in the U.S., we’re even more detailed—with thousands of extra codes (Americans now have 70,000 official ways to get sick, hurt or die, per Tech Times).

So, how well did hospitals, private practices, and other healthcare providers prepare for this major udpate? How will the implementation of ICD-10 impact them? How can the blow of the projected costs associated with the switch be eased? It all starts with medical coders, and how well those medical coders prepared.

With up to seven alphanumeric characters in ICD-10 compared with a maximum of four numeric digits in ICD-9, there will be lots more room for the codes to accommodate new medical conditions and procedures. The opportunity for a more detailed coding system also means the opportunity for a more detailed process change, not simply a technology change. The people behind the process are more important than ever. Employing trained and fluent ICD-10 coders that get the codes correct the first time will ensure no billing gaps or collection delays.

So far, although it’s very early into the ICD-10 era, medical professionals are reacting relatively positive. The following quote from Thomas A. Marsland, MD, an Oncologist from Orange Park, Florida, via an article in Medical Economics, sums it up:

“Well, here we are, 48 hours into ICD-10. The sky hasn’t fallen and the Earth hasn’t opened up. So far, there has been little impact or effect on day-to-day activities.”

However, we should still proceed with caution, as many are, including Terry Brenneman, MD, a Pediatrician from Raleigh, North Carolina.

“Will this code be specific enough for the payers? I will get to find out in a few weeks. I did open a line of credit for $150,000 for our three-provider practice anticipating a lot of rejections.”

However you feel about ICD-10, and it’s exceptionally long list of codes that allow for very precise diagnoses, one thing is clear: you must have talented medical coders at your business. They must be able to translate a physician’s notes into the proper codes, so that there are no broken links in the chain—from a patient visit to a medical biller submitting a claim to a health insurance company.

Don’t fall behind; let us help ease the transition. We specialize in non-clinical healthcare staffing for all positions, including medical coders. Our vast talent pool ensures we’ll find your perfect candidate.

Ajilon | ajilon.com | 1 (800) 981-3849

Sources:

(2015). ICD-10 Medical Diagnosis Code Gives Americans 70,000 Office Ways to Get Sick, Hurt or Die. Tech Times. Retrieved from http://www.techtimes.com/articles/90766/20151005/icd-10-medical-diagnosis-code-gives-americans-70-000-official-ways-to-get-sick-hurt-or-die.htm

Doctor, R.M. (2015). Physicians react to early days of ICD-10. Modern Economics. Retrieved from http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/physicians-react-early-days-icd-10

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