Time is Now for Medical Billers to Focus on ICD-10

By Michelle Stahl, Owner, Physicians Billing Service

You can Find Michelle Stahl, Owner of Physicians Billing Service on Google+.

As many Medical Practices, Physicians and Medical Billers know, the implementation of ICD 10 is fast approaching on October 14, 2014.  As you are probably aware, the complexity of ICD 10 is vast; it involves almost 10 times the number of billing codes of ICD9.

The AAPC (American Academy of Professional Coders) published an insightful article on August 8, 2013, that provides answers to four frequently asked questions about where to get started.

First and foremost, the article advices that medical billers should ensure that they are using the right coding set.  For example, ICD-10-CM applies to diagnosis coding, while the ICD-10-PCS code set applies to hospital inpatient procedures.

Answers to 4 (Four) Frequently Asked Questions about ICD-10

1.  When Should Medical Practices Start Training on ICD-10?

The article recommends, and I concur, to begin training on ICD-10 as soon as possible.  The magnitude of the +100,000 new medical codes that will occur with ICD-10 necessitate that medical billers get started early in learning about ICD-10.  The article recommends sending “at least one person from your office now for ICD-10 training and have him or her report back the impact of transition”.

 2.  “Is Coding the Only Area We Need to Focus on For the ICD-10 Transition?

No the ICD-10 scope of change and transition goes beyond just coding changes.  Physicians and Medical Billers will have to invest substantial time to update their operational processes.  As early as possible, identify a project manager in your practice who can coordinate with your medical staff with respect to your budget, electronic medical record and billing “software upgrades, training needs” and quantify your “productivity loss / gain”.

3.  “What Are the Main ICD-9 vs. ICD-10 Differences?”

The differences between ICD-10 and ICD’9 are substantial.  The AAPC article summarizes the changes as follows:

  • “ICD-10 codes are alpha numeric and up to seven characters in length; ICD-9 codes are only three to five characters.”
  • “ICD-10 has 21 chapters; ICD-9 has 17.”
  • “ICD-9’s V and E codes are incorporated into the main classification in the ICD-10 code:
    • Placeholders (X) are required to hold places followed by additional characters.
    • Seventh characters are required for obstetrics, injuries, and external causes of injuries.
    • Post-operative complications will now be located specific to the procedure-specific body system.”
  • “ICD-10 will classify injuries first by specific site and then by type of injury. ICD-9 classified injuries by type.”
  • “ICD-10 includes full code titles for all codes, so it is not necessary to reference back to common fourth and fifth digit categories.”
  • “ICD-10 has combination codes for conditions and common symptoms or manifestations, for example E10.21 (Type 1 diabetes mellitus with diabetic nephropathy) and N30.01 (Acute cystitis with hematuria).”

 4.  “Does ‘x’ Mean the Same in ICD-10 as it Did in ICD-9?”

Unfortunately ‘x’ does not mean the same thing in ICD-10.  In ICD-10, ‘x’ “ is a placeholder in ICD-10, so the dash has taken its place”.

To read the full article, visit the AAPC web site.

In summary, get started in understanding ICD-10 as early as possible.  If you are looking for medical biling consulting advice on where to get started with ICD 10, Physicians Billing Service and I would be glad to assist.  Since 1989, we have proudly earned a +A reputation with leading medical practices and Physicians.

At Physicians Billing Service, we proudly support +250 Physicians through-out Dulles VA, Fairfax County VA, GW University DC, Reston VA, and through-out the Washington DC metropolitan area.  As a Medical Billing Company, we are unique in that we do not charge medical billing set-up fees and our incentives to perform are directly aligned with your medical practice’s cash flow and profitability.  For a complimentary consultation and to speak with Michelle Stahl, Owner of Physicians Billing Service, call 240.382.Bill (2455) or use our online contact form.

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