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The ICD-10 Preparation Countdown

We are less than 100 days away from the moment when the current ICD-9 diagnostic classification system will be replaced by the staggeringly extensive new ICD-10 coding system. On October 1, medical practices will no longer be able to submit ICD-9 codes on claims for reimbursement from payors. The transition to ICD-10 has been a long, long time coming and has been a heated topic within the medical community: the preparation, rumors, disagreements, agreements, education, procrastination, sleepless nights, jokes - we’ve seen and heard it all as we’ve transitioned our charge capture customers to ICD-10. If we use the five stages of grief model to classify what the medical industry has gone through, I think we’ve finally come to the final stage: acceptance. Well, most of us, anyway.

Despite that fact that the ICD-10 train seems to be full steam ahead, many opponents just aren’t ready to give up on their efforts to delay the nationwide transition. The American Medical Association (AMA) has been leading a campaign to institute a two-year grace period during which claims cannot not be denied due to inaccurate or unspecified ICD-10 codes. As a result, CMS just announced that providers would not be penalized for one year for coding errors if claims are submitted within the 'appropriate family.' Additionally, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) recently drafted three ICD-10 related amendments to the $153.2 billion FY2016 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill.

These delay efforts only serve as distractions from the ICD-10 preparation that most practices across the country have invested in. Some practices are in a better position than others for the upcoming change. Many medical groups are still using paper billing sheets to record their services done outside of the clinic - in hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis units - instead of using an electronic charge capture system. And when the diagnosis coding system switches over to ICD-10, those paper sheets will become even more inefficient for physicians and billers, and will exacerbate any delayed and/or lost revenue.

Practices using an electronic charge capture system will be able to transition their codes automatically and seamlessly (if they haven't done so already,) and can easily make ongoing code updates to their diagnosis list. There are numerous ways you can prepare your group for ICD-10, but great charge capture software will have a tremendous positive impact come October 1.