What Prompts Providers to Hire Specialists in Transition to ICD-10?

When The Department of Health and Human Services’ drew out a time table for ICD-10 transition, all the stakeholders including the providers felt the time-frame was sufficient to migrate comprehensively to ICD-10 compliant clinical and operational practices. But that has not been the case – in view of woefully slow pace of transition across the health care, The Department of Health and Human Services’ has acceded to the demand for extending original deadline from Oct. 1, 2013 to Oct. 1, 2014. And, with no possibility of further extension, majority of providers are not risking going all by themselves. Instead, they are seeking out specialists for the purpose – nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of them are understood to have employed third-party specialist to look after the entire process of transition to new coding system.

The providers’ decision may have been prompted by inherent challenges in transforming to as gigantic and as complex a transition as ICD-10.  The ICD-10 code structure is distinctly unique and more elaborative than its predecessor, ICD-9. Because the previous coding system was inadequate to cover the evolving diagnosis and disease management procedures, ICD-10 was conceived with as many as 69,000 diagnosis codes and 72,000 procedural codes. While such extensive coding may eventually eradicate ambiguity, the accuracy of coding demands proficiency in anatomy, pathophysiology, Medical Terminology, and ICD-10 coding conventions. Because of such complex, time consuming, and costly upgrading, providers may not ventured on their own. Amongst many crucial areas where ICD-10 specialists may be required to intervene are:

  • Cross over ICD-10 compliant IT platforms, which requires choosing and engaging IT vendors that are credible and competent in implementing customized IT architecture.
  • Anticipate and prepare providers for possible productivity loss when crossing over form ICD-9 to ICD-10. As the entire health information management/coding, case management, claims processing and follow-up, research, and decision support gets revamped, there may be likelihood of increased number of claims denials.
  • Chalk out a detailed training program for staff the concerned with clinical documentation and coding, which would comprise anatomy and physiology courses, detailed clinical documentation requirements, practice coding experience with real-time feedback, and general awareness sessions for staff currently using ICD-9 data.
  • Address the possible escalation of A/R days and respond to RAC audits for any errors in coding Medicare/Medicaid bills (classified as fraud and abuse)
  • Restricting access to sensitive data during multiple unit and integration testing cycles when Protected Health Information (PHI) may be most vulnerable to security and privacy risks.

Despite ICD-10 transition being complex, time consuming, and costly, it could eventually result in:

  • Improved reimbursement as : specificity in the ICD 10 codes can equate to more accurate claims, more efficiency in the billing and reimbursement process, and the ability to differentiate reimbursement based on patient acuity, complexity and outcomes. Reimbursement for new procedures may come from improved claims adjudication between provider and health plans.
  • Superior collaborative clinical management as : appropriate application of ICD 10 codes can lead to increased efficiency in the exchange of patient profile information, treatments across the care process, and hospital resource management.
  • Enhanced Patient Safety as : efficient use of all the data generated by the ICD 10 process can improve patient care and safety by observing usage trends and analyzing outcomes.
  • Better compliance with quality yardsticks as : improved clinical documentation and coding accuracy will enhance the assessment and monitoring of patient quality indicators, as well as compliance with third-party payer coding and billing rules and regulations.

While fully endorsing providers’ decision to seek third-party specialists’ intervention in ICD-10 transition, Medicalbillersandcoders.com is confident and competent of engaging providers with specialists that are resourceful enough to plan, test, and implement ICD-10 compliant clinical documentation, coding and billing practices. Our affiliation with ICD-10 specialists across the 50 states in the U.S. makes us the leading source of ICD-10 change-agents for medical practices of diverse sizes and disciplines.