ICD-10 compliance should have commenced last October 1, 2013. However, a unanimous voice vote in Senate helped pass a bill that pushed the date to October 1, 2014. This gives hospitals and medical facilities more time to comply with the new version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) for their documentation systems.
Although designed to increase reporting accuracy, ICD-10 has medical practitioners worrying that compliance to the system will make proper documentation difficult. ICD-10 contains more than 140,000 diagnosis codes (initially 68,000 but with new ones added) compared with ICD-9’s 13,000. Anyone required to implement ICD-10 will need to go through these codes to file more accurate data.
This division in documentation presents one of the primary challenges in implementing ICD-10. EMR expert Nitin Chhoda writes:
“One of the most difficult facets of the new codes is the way documentation is divided. There are four parts and external injury will cause the most frustration and be the hardest to remember. The external causes portion of the documentation should be a primary focus for practitioners. New documentation requirements want very exact information about the external causes of where and how an injury took place.”
Medical practices may also feel the sting of increased documentation costs. Experts estimate the cost to increase by around $27,000 per physician in the health system. This doesn’t take into account the cost of training to be familiarized with the new system, which may cost $1,500 to $2,000.
Bridging the Technological Gap
Professional document management services like Spectrum Information Services can definitely play a significant role in making the transition to the ICD-10 more cost efficient. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services say planning will be crucial, so it is best to start working with data management professionals as early as now.
Chhoda also gives some points to remember about proper coding. He writes:
“Clinicians should always endeavor to code at the highest level of specificity and detail, but avoid coding for a probable or suspected diagnosis. Coding should only be completed for all the symptoms that can be documented. Acute conditions should be listed before chronic issues if both exist.”
Reliable document management companies can help in the planning phase of the transition to ICD-10. They can provide the staff, equipment, and—more importantly—the knowhow to make the transition as smooth as possible. They can also continue to provide you with support even after the transition is complete.
(Source: The New Challenges with the ICD-10 Rules, EMR News, March 31, 2014)