With ICD-10 being postponed again, you may be left with some very important questions. It's best to start at the beginning by understanding what ICD-10 actually is, how it works, and the best ways to implement this program - with or without delay. Understand how to convert to ICD-10 no matter when the deadline may be, and how this can help your billing and business.
ICD-10 is a diagnostic coding system used to classify medical diagnosis and procedures around the world - just not in the United States. The US uses ICD-9-CM. The difference between these two coding systems is essentially variety. The new system has 69,000 classifications, while the old system has 13,600 codes. Why so many more codes? Simply put, technology. New technological advances in diagnosis and treatment have left many procedures without an accurate description. Switching to the new coding system means that health information can be both billed and tracked more accurately, and data is easier to share across the World Health Organization networks.
When Does ICD-10 Start?
Isn't that the question everyone is asking? After many delays, ICD-10 coding was scheduled to begin on October 14, 2014, but that got changed again. The new deadline for ICD compliance is now October 1, 2015. The new deadline got extended in the latest "Medicare Doc Fix " bill. This bill not only extended the deadline for ICD, but added an extension for the Two Midnights Rule, eliminated the ACA cap on deductibles, and passed additional provisions aiming to improve mental health treatment.
How to Prepare for the Coding Changeover
While the ICD coding switch deals with medical procedures and label ling, it is important to understand that this is also a database issue and highly technical. You will need to take many steps similar to a web migration or system upgrade in order to prepare your office to handle the change. The Medical Group Management Association recommends creating a checklist with the following information:
- Vendor name, software title, and contact info
- Readiness risk assessment for vendors
- Responsible party for software management in-house
- Date vendor was contacted with comments
- Date vendor expects upgrade
- Amount of time vendor expects to be offline
- Date vendor will begin internal testing
- Date vendor will begin external testing
- Name of staff in charge of spreadsheet updates
In addition to creating a spreadsheet to track the preparation of your vendors, you will also need to prepare internally. Remember to allow adequate time for employee training and software testing. Make sure staff understands the structure of ICD-10 billing codes. Test software for compatibility with your existing systems and your vendor systems. Train staff to manage any new software involved. If possible have your staff and system prepared well before the deadline approaches, as this will only make your coding transition happen smoother.
Use a software platform that allows for redundancy in billing, letting you use both coding systems simultaneously. The AAPC states that , "...for a period of two years or more, systems will need to access both..." ICD 9 & 10 codes will both need to be tracked as the country switches over. Proper mapping between related codes will need to be followed to ensure items are correlated correctly. Additionally, a dual coding system may allow you to switch whenever you want, not whenever an ambiguous deadline approaches.While ICD-10 postponement can be confusing and frustrating, don't worry. You now have more time to train and prepare your facility to get the most out of your extra transition time. Track vendors readiness and prepare internally. Utilize dual coding when possible to get ready ahead of time and facilitate compatibility for international information sharing.