How will the changes in medical coding challenge your practice?
Change inevitably presents us with challenges, but when it involves a ton of detail-oriented coding, it can be downright intimidating. While the transition to ICD-10 billing has been coming for a while and practices have had additional time to prepare for it, some practices still feel like they’re not prepared. If you’re feeling uncertain about the impact of ICD-10 on your practice’s efficiency, claim error rates, and cashflow, then the right practice management software may be the answer.
Is the U.S. last to implement ICD-10?
The tenth revision of medical diagnosis codes was completed in 1992 and since that time has been in-use worldwide, except here in the U.S., where after 23 years (and many delays), it is finally about to see the light of day. As opposed to the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code set created and maintained by the AMA, ICD-10 is an internationally recognized disease classification system created and maintained by the World Health Organization.
It is important for physicians to have a consistent way to code diseases, symptoms, and their causes. Coding is a common language between physicians and their medical staff, and it is the core component of your medical billing. For medical billing to proceed unhindered, the most specific diagnosis must be identified by the healthcare provider and supplied to the billing staff for coding, billing, and reimbursement. Having the right software for your medical billing department could never have a more strategic moment. The need of the hour is dual-coding software that will allow your billing staff to learn and code ICD-10, while they’re billing out ICD-9 to the payers.
How Will the Change to ICD-10 Impact Your Practice?
Practice software plays a strategic role because every time the codes change, your practice needs to adjust its coding in response. Since ICD-10 contains details such as new potential diagnosis, this means that your office staff need to carefully over time, practice the codes that affect your cashflow most if you are to make a smooth transition to the new coding initiative.
ICD-10 is not a small change. It’s far more detail-oriented than ICD-9, and it involves a move from 14,600 codes to 68,000. While your office likely does not use all of these codes, the specificity of the new system can be a challenge for staff and could cause a large drop in efficiency and accuracy if you shift abruptly from ICD-9 to ICD-10. Inaccurate coding will mean that your insurance claims will be denied or that patients have somewhat inaccurate health information on file. When the time comes, it’s important that you chose the highest level of specificity so that the medical billing staff don’t get confused and bill the claim incorrectly.
Dual coding can make the ICD-10 transition less stressful for your office staff.
Dual Coding is the Best Trial Run
Automating your practice management and moving to practice management software that offers dual-coding is a good choice for those who are still preparing to manage the ICD-10 basics. However, even though practice management software will help your practice become more efficient, it’s hard to learn about new software and new codes at the same time. The best strategy is to stair-step this implementation process well in advance of the deadline so that there are less moving parts in play at one time.
To manage the challenges of a new coding system, look for practice management software that offers coding in both the old and the new systems. Dual coding can be a good first step in the transition to ICD-10. Dual coding means that you code in both your existing ICD-9 and the new ICD-10 codes. This allows your staff to get used to the new coding system and will improve accuracy when you finally transition to the new system. It will also help your staff see and document areas where they need to improve their accuracy. Your staff will learn what new codes are most common in your office as they transition into the ICD-10 coding system. As you transition over, your practice management system will also help them see where they’ve made errors, leading to quick leaps in efficiency and fewer errors in the future.
Can new practice management software help your practice manage the transition to ICD-10? Visit PracticeSuite to find out how we can help.
Last Updated on December 16, 2014