News: Health Management Technology

The switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10: Whole practice must embrace the challenge

As the healthcare industry undergoes conversion from about 17,000 ICD-9 codes to more than 155,000 ICD-10 codes on Oct. 1, 2013, we asked our panel of experts the following question:

As we continue transitioning to ICD-10, what are the best ways to reduce claims and coding errors?

Rex Stanley, President, Alpha II

The transition to ICD-10-CM is not just a problem for software vendors. I recommend that you:

  • Designate an internal staff member, a physician, a small committee or a temporary outside consultant to rally staff and spearhead ICD-10 until it is up and running.
  • Schedule training for everyone, including an average of 16 hours for certified coders; the AAPC, AHIMA and ACMCS Web sites are the best sources of online education.
  • Locate every piece of paperwork — internal and external — that includes ICD-9 codes and prepare to say goodbye to the "super bill" and other "cheat sheets" and "encounter sheets," which lack the specificity for more granular ICD-10. Maintain old records containing ICD-9 codes for historical purposes and to resolve old claims.
  • Streamline all work processes; consider implementing an EHR.
  • Schedule downtime for updating hardware and software.
  • Analyze your payer mix, factoring the percentage of delinquent payers and set aside in escrow.