Contracting out my billing to AHS is one of the best decisions I’ve made for my practice. They help with billing timeliness & accuracy, so there’s no slow down in revenue. And they keep up-to-date with billing & coding changes and are always there to answer questions.

– M. Gupta, MD

ICD-10 codes will become the official coding standard for the United States healthcare system beginning in October of 2015. With this shift in ICD coding guidelines, the United States will become the 26th country to move to a pay-for-performance model.

Why the change in ICD codes?

ICD-9 codes have run out of room for expansion. Plus, the ICD-9 coding taxonomy isn’t specific enough for the changing needs of our healthcare system.

ICD-10 brings more than 53,000 new codes – and a limitless capacity to grow.

So this expansion in healthcare billing codes will improve granularity, allowing for very precise reimbursement determinations.

Benefits of ICD coding changes

For those of us who work in the world of healthcare billing, this coding change might seem like an overwhelming headache. But ICD-10 will actually bring lots of great benefits, such as

  • Tracking trends in the health of our population
  • Painting a clearer view of how effective certain treatments and therapies really are
  • Classifying physicians based on actual patient outcomes

How are ICD-9 and ICD-10 different?

ICD-10 coding isn’t just a larger list of codes. This billing system is set up differently than ICD-9 codes were:

  • ICD-10 codes are alphanumeric, and a single code can expand to up to 7 digits in length!
  • ICD-10 allows for an expanse of injury codes, as well as the ability to indicate right, left, acute, or chronic without a modifier
  • ICD-10 coding includes combination codes as well as codes that indicate a first encounter, subsequent, or sequel visit

How will ICD-10 change our workflow?

With such a vast expansion of coding comes a demand for precise documentation on the provider’s part. This will become the biggest change to overall workflow.

The key to transitioning is preparedness. Change is always somewhat nerve-racking, but here are some tips for paving a successful road to transition:

  • Educate yourself
  • Evaluate your vendor, billing company, clearinghouse, and payer readiness
  • Participate in end-to-payer testing
  • Practice side-by-side coding in ICD-9 and ICD-10 within your office before October 1st

For ongoing tips and information about the upcoming ICD coding changes, please contact us, and we’ll sign you up for our informational newsletter.

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