ICD-10: One month in

October 1, 2015 has come and gone. I didn’t really expect everything to come to a screeching halt, as warned during the anticipation of Y2K. I did, however, expect that by the middle of this month, we would have some horror stories about claims issues with regard to the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10. I’m still waiting. I’m sure there have been individual issues, but scanning list serves, web sites, CMS, etc., I haven’t seen any systemic issues with regard to claims payment in the professional, Part B world. Insert sigh of relief here.

I was at AHIMA in New Orleans during the last days of ICD-9, September 27-30. We had so many visitors to our booth. It was great to see and meet so many of our customers. I asked every coder that came to the booth their thoughts on ICD-10, wondering if they would mirror my own. They did and I was surprised. Not a single coder claimed to be worried. In fact all of them, literally all of them, said they were excited that ICD-10 was FINALLY here. Coders have been warned, often with terrifying stories, about ICD-10 for as long as I’ve been coding (and that’s a long time). But, the long anticipated, often delayed implementation date has finally arrived and we can now use all those interesting new ICD-10 codes, most of which fall into the External Causes of Morbidity, Chapter 20. In fact, if you go to YouTube and search “There’s a code for that” you’ll find all kinds of interesting videos about odd circumstances that we are now able to code. While many of these circumstances are humorous, I’m left to wonder how often these things have happened in the past for there to now be an official way to code it in ICD-10. For example: W61.43S, Contact with birds (domestic) (wild); pecked by turkey, sequela. I wonder what the sequela would be after having been pecked by a turkey. This code could come in handy as we approach Thanksgiving.

Aside from the fun codes in ICD-10, we also have some really handy codes. In ICD-9, when a patient came in for their annual physical, we really only had a single code, V70.0, Routine medical exam. Now, we’re able to tell more of the story in ICD-10. Code selection depends on the age of the patient, whether or not the physician reported any abnormal findings and type of exam, like vision or hearing. In fact, codes Z00.- through Z13.- are available to tell exactly the type of encounter the patient had. We now have a specific code for a patient being seen for allergy testing, Z01.82, Encounter for allergy testing. In ICD-9, all we had was V72.85, Other specified exam.

But, now that we coders have ICD-10, we also need to demonstrate our proficiency with this new code set. As a CPC (certified professional coder), I’m credentialed via AAPC. In order to maintain my certification, I need to take the ICD-10 proficiency exam before Dec. 31 of this year. If you haven’t taken the exam yet, you’ll need to access the AAPC website and purchase the exam. It is web-based, open book with 75 ICD-10 questions. We have 3.5 hours to complete the exam and must score at least 80 percent to pass. Soon this change will fade into history, the same way Y2K did, for those of you who still remember that non-event. We’ll regain our speed, have our most frequently used codes and rules memorized and we’ll be reporting incredibly valuable data on America’s health.

Rebecca Caux-Harry, CPC, is the CodeRyte product specialist for cardiology with 3M Health Information Systems.

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