Time is Running Out for ICD-10

ICD-10 is not a bad word but sometimes it sounds like one. The estimates for cost of transition from ICD-9 to ICDE-10 in a small practice is expected to range from over $50,000- $80,000 according to the Nachimson Advisors Studies. However, many providers continue to drag their feet hoping the cost will go away but, from all indications, it won’t this time. The deadline for implementation of the new codes is October 1, 2014.

ICD-10 is the International Classification of Disease tenth revision. This is a coding system created by the World Health Organization that codes for diseases, signs, symptoms, complaints, social circumstances, and other clinical descriptions that are documented in the medical records of hospital and ambulatory medical settings. Most people relate the coding to medical billing. When your physician accurately codes to support clinical services this can lead to better financial reimbursement for their medical practice. Most importantly it can correctly identify patient health and illness and allow for more accurate medical care across the system. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requires physicians and the health care industry to transition from the old system (ICD-9) to ICD-10 by the October deadline. Large Practices could pay up to 8 million dollars for the revision. Most of the cost is for the upgrade of their Electronic Medical Records to meet the new standards. The bottom line is that practices and hospitals will not be able to bill or collect for services without the change.

I have touched on this subject before but feel it is time to sound the alarm again to physicians and all providers that this “situation” is at hand. Make sure you get involved with your local and national professional societies for updates and advice. Contact your EHR vendors to see their plans for upgrades and what that could mean to your bottom line. Shop around and look for better deals or payment plans concerning ICD-10. Providers should treat this like shopping for a new car or home. It cost just as much.

The hope is that ICD-10 will help transition us to a more accurate payment system and improved medical services with financially healthy practices that provide better care to patients. Other countries switched to ICD-10 a long time ago and they may give us a glimpse of our future and how the change could impact our health system. Personally I have not done that comparison but I am hopeful that the impact will further our existing multidimensional efforts to improve health care in this nation. So, like it or not, get ready because the train is coming.

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