23 Apr The Rollout of the New Medical Coding System Nears: Are You Ready?
It is a big year for medical coding in the U.S. as ICD-10 goes into effect this year, replacing ICD-9. The new system includes ICD-10-CM, which are diagnostic codes, and ICD-10- PCS, which are medical procedure codes. The new coding system must be incorporated and utilized by any and all involved in medical billing and coding this year. For medical practices that handle their billing and coding in-house, this changeover process stands to be time-consuming, challenging, and frustrating.
The Need for New Codes and the Process
The need for a new medical coding system for diagnostics and procedures was apparent years ago, as medical advances in both how patients were evaluated and treatment options began to expand and multiple. The ICD-9 system was deemed inadequate. The old system, which has been in existence since 1979, was supposed to be retired in 2013, but the transition has been delayed twice.
How big are the changes? Basic figures give one an idea. The ICD-9 system has more than 14,000 codes for unique medical diagnoses. The ICD-10 system contains over 68,000.
Daunting for Medical Practices and Insurers
Concerning the scope and vastness of the changeover, Debora Bohlen, administrative director for the transition at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, acknowledges, “The ICD-10 project is a huge undertaking. However, our team is doing an excellent job of reaching out to all areas of the organization to help remediate all tools and applications to be ICD-10 compliant.” She added, “We have brought together multiple teams with representatives from training, coding, technology, clinical areas, research, quality, finance and others to ensure that Vanderbilt has a smooth transition to the new ICD-10 code set.”
For small and medium-sized medical practices, the process will be daunting to say the least, and, on the other end, insurers will also be dealing with the many challenges associated with switching from ICD-9 to ICD-10 and remaining compliant.
Outsourcing to Professionals
The migration from ICD-9 to ICD-10 will need to be accommodated by all who are involved in medical billing and coding. But those companies that specialize in this area are best situated to handle the transition. Along with having prepared for it extensively, they are uniquely qualified to deal with any complications, snags, and challenges associated with the new system and the migration.
For healthcare practices that have been processing their medical billing in-house this is the perfect time to consider outsourcing it to a company that specializes in this aspect.
Compliance Becomes More Complicated
The ICD-10 has made medical billing and coding more complicated due to the fact that along with being a new system, it is greatly expanded, offering about five times as many coding possibilities. The adaptation process will be involved, and for those who are not current or fluent in the new system, mistakes are bound to be numerous.
The professionals at Medical Practice Management Resources, Inc., are trained, proficient, and knowledgeable when it comes to ICD-10 and the transition process. We can help your medical practice stay current and become more fiscally efficient in this challenging time. Contact us to find out how we can help you.