Taking a Closer Look at the October ICD-10 Coding Challenge

CHALLENGE QUESTION:

A 70-year old man presented at an Ambulatory Surgery Center for an upper GI endoscopy to be evaluated for the cause of his recent complaints of some dysphagia. The patient received Midazolam 6mg IV and Fentanyl 100 mcg IV and Benzocaine spray was applied to the back of his throat. After obtaining informed consent, the endoscope was passed under direct vision. It was introduced through the mouth and advanced to the second part of the duodenum. A small hiatal hernia was present. A mild Schatzki ring was found at the gastroesophageal junction at 35 cm. A TTS dilator was passed through the scope. Dilation with at 15-16.5-18 mm x 240 cm CRE balloon (to a maximum balloon size of 18 mm) dilator was performed with mild treatment effect. The esophageal body mucosa appeared mildly corrugated. Biopsies were taken from the upper and lower esophagus. At that point, the patient went into cardiac arrest. We quickly removed the endoscope and began resuscitative efforts. The patient was emergently transferred to the local hospital. Postprocedure diagnoses: Schatzki ring, hiatal hernia, cardiac arrest. Continue reading

The Impact of ICD-10 on Reimbursement: What’s Realistic?

HFMA Reg 2On a beautiful fall day in upstate New York, I joined a group of healthcare financial executives at the HFMA Region 2 Fall Institute. Meeting hot topics included change management, the CMS Two Midnight rule, big data, and Medicaid updates.

Attendees also learned about the impact of ICD-10 on reimbursement in my presentation “ICD-10: Determining the Realistic Reimbursement Impact on MS-DRGs and APR DRGs.” While ICD-10 may impact many areas of the revenue cycle after October 1, 2015, including the DNFB and cash flow, my presentation focused on analyzing the potential shift in reimbursement by comparing claims coded in ICD-9 and ICD-10. Continue reading

CMS is Serious about Overuse of Modifiers: More on 59

On September 10, 2014, OIG announced it settled with a physician group practice in Illinois for overuse of modifiers.  The practice exceeded the number of units allowed for certain services as regulated by CMS. According to the OIG, the physician practice used a code to bypass computer edits that otherwise would have rejected their claims. The group entered into a $590,763.45 settlement to resolve allegations of submitting false or fraudulent claims to Medicare. In addition, OIG contends the group upcoded services and submitted claims for high complexity tests when it performed less expensive, low or moderate complexity tests.

My take:

In September, I posted a blog regarding the modifications CMS plans to make to modifier 59 by creating four new, more specific modifiers that can be used to bypass an NCCI edit. CMS is requiring providers to be more specific with regard to what they believe a separate service really is. What is not new is that using the new modifiers will require documentation that adequately supports their use. A few thoughts on the new modifiers: Continue reading

Why So Many Coding Software Releases?

Take a glance at your phone, or your laptop screen, or your desktop monitor. Do you see an alert about downloading a new software release or system update? We ignore them, we avoid them, and we put off installing them for days. When we finally get around to it, inevitably a new alert pops up with yet another set of updates!

Many of you may have wondered… why does 3M provide so many releases for the 3M Coding and Reimbursement System? Well, in this blog I hope to address the question of updates in a way that will help you understand how these releases impact you and which ones are critical for you to perform to keep your coding system updated. Continue reading

Accuracy Matters

Thinking about all of the various quality initiatives currently out there or under development, I can’t help but think about what we DO with all of this information. Certainly accuracy is important for accurate quality scores, but isn’t accuracy important for a more basic and important reason?

Prior to joining 3M, I was employed as a nurse manager at a 600+ bed hospital. I was responsible for the CCU, CVICU and CV step-down units. Early on in my tenure, the quality and infection control departments presented statistics to the nurse managers on our infection rates by unit. To say it was concerning would be an understatement. We were tasked with developing a meaningful strategy to reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired infections and our strategy was two-fold: education and surveillance. We educated all stakeholders on the current statistics and the hospital protocols for reducing hospital acquired infections. Continue reading

Four Mistakes My Doctors Make with High Deductible Plans

A year ago my family changed to a high deductible health plan and started using a health savings account. Because we expect to pay higher upfront out-of-pocket expenses, we pay careful attention to the network requirements and out-of-pocket thresholds. Our local providers, though, seem to manage patients with high-deductible plans as if they were no different from traditional PPO plans.

There are several things I wish my providers would do differently, and not just to make it easier for me to manage my family’s health care. My providers inadvertently increased administrative time, delayed payment, and resulted in denials and write-offs. They would do better if they adapted their processes in light of the different plan requirements. Here are four suggestions for avoiding the mistakes my doctors made with my high-deductible plan: Continue reading

Who Will Win at Population Health Management?

Healthcare by transaction is dead. This economic model cannot be sustained. The new frontier involves aligning care providers across the continuum so they can think differently – and act differently. Successful population health management involves the strategic use of data to deliver the right care to the right population at the right time. Instead of managing the health of an individual episodically, providers will be challenged to manage the health of a group of individuals over time. The shift from volume to value requires providers to take on accountability for the total cost of care, the quality of care and the outcomes of care – rather than simply provide services when people are sick. Continue reading

Integrating Sociodemographic Factors into Risk Adjustment: Important Considerations for NQF’s “Robust Trial Period”

Why is it necessary that risk adjustment incorporate sociodemographic factors for my diabetic schizophrenic patients who have unstable housing?

Healthcare is fundamentally about people. That’s why, at the end of the day, it is the differences and disparities among individuals that are at the heart of the challenge facing the National Quality Forum (NQF) as it debates incorporating sociodemographic factors into risk adjustment.

Here’s a real-life example of the importance of SES factors to risk adjustment: Robert is a diabetic patient of mine who is schizophrenic with episodes of psychosis. He has difficulty with his meds in part because his housing situation is not stable. From time to time he is homeless. If there is any possibility of stabilizing his diabetes, he will need additional case management time over and above a diabetic schizophrenic who does not have the added SES burden. The case manager would not just deal with “medical” issues like making sure that Robert is taking his meds every day but also working with Robert to address conflict with neighbors that in turn are making him extremely anxious. In this case, the neighbors were extremely rowdy with loud music. The case manager was able to defuse the situation – when the neighbors were told by the housing authority to move. The same challenge applies to my asthmatic patients who live in substandard housing and are exposed to different allergens than those impacting middle-class asthmatics. In this situation, the case manager might help with making sure that insects exacerbating the asthma attacks are eliminated from the apartment. Continue reading

Alert Fatigue: The Implications for Reducing Preventable Hospital-Acquired Conditions

Blog post by Krysten Brooks, RN, BSN, MBA

Hospitals across the country have launched a wide-range of initiatives to reduce hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), but despite their efforts, a quarter of the nation’s hospitals face reimbursement penalties according to a preliminary analysis released in June by CMS that scored hospitals based on rates of acquired conditions and patient complications. While Medicare’s HAC Reduction Program plans to release final scores later this year, the healthcare organizations facing penalties can expect to lose approximately one percent of each Medicare payment from October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015, translating into billions of dollars in lost reimbursement.

The Medicare penalties will undoubtedly hit some organizations hard, and these hospitals are moving quickly to analyze avoidable complications and intervene to improve quality. Facilities are also auditing clinical documentation for completeness and accuracy and examining documentation workflow to analyze process breakdowns and problems. Continue reading

New Partnerships and New Metrics for Better Population Health

“How do we achieve better population health?”

This is the question on the minds of health care leaders across the country today.

At a recent 3M health care executive conference in Saint Paul, Minnesota, representatives from health plans, hospitals, Medicaid and several non-profit organizations gathered to discuss patient-centered models of care as a way to achieve better population health outcomes.

But attendees didn’t walk away with a clear-cut answer to the question “how do we achieve better population health?” There is no such thing. Instead, they left with affirmation that better population health is going to require (1) new collaborative partnerships and (2) thoughtful consideration of the right metrics for measuring population health. Continue reading