We’re now almost two months into ICD-10. I’ve been, literally, coast to coast during that time and have asked everyone how their transition is going. To my surprise, regardless of where physician practices were in their preparation when ICD-10 was delayed last year, everyone that I’ve visited with was well prepared for this year’s Oct. 1 implementation.
Many practices used the extra time to work on dual coding, testing of clearinghouses, reviewing new LCD policies, etc. Some groups were glad the implementation date was pushed back, but equally as many were not, having to retrain coders and providers on the new code set. As mentioned last month, there have been a few bumps, but the only consistent comment I hear is about coder productivity and documentation. Productivity is down as expected, but depending on the practice, their coding tools and time spent dual coding, the drop in productivity has been variable. We’ve seen some customers’ productivity drop, but the drop is lower than expected. That could be because of dual coding prior to October 1, which reduced productivity, but the fact that it’s lower than expected could be the result of more sophisticated coding tools available to us.
Certainly, documentation specificity is an issue, in some specialties more than others. But, we’ll get there. And what about medical necessity policies, which we’ve been worrying about for quite some time? CMS made the policies fully available and they contain many of the unspecified codes we’ll have to use while the providers improve their documentation to allow us to select a more specific code. The CMS medical policy search page can be accessed here. CMS notes they will continue to have ICD-9 coverage policies available on the MCD (Medicare Coverage Database) site until January 7, 2016. Those policies will also be placed in the MCD Archive beginning December 30, 2015, allowing coders access to those policies in both locations for a week, should they need them.
I know productivity and documentation will steadily improve as we move forward. And the few NCD/LCD policies that need attention will be addressed and claims reprocessed for payment. All in all, the transition seems to be going smoothly. While the medical record has become increasingly diluted by copy-paste practices, the requirements of ICD-10 will help insure a more detailed and comprehensive medical record. A more comprehensive record will translate into better medical care and we all want that!
So, in the spirit of the season, I’m thankful to be working for a company known for coding expertise, thankful ICD-10 is no longer delayed, thankful for improved medical care, thankful for the massive snowstorm last week that blanketed the mountains with skier friendly powder! Winter, here we come!
Rebecca Caux-Harry, CPC, is the CodeRyte product specialist for cardiology with 3M Health Information Systems.
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