Monday, February 27, 2012

Question of the Month

In the past two weeks, I've received or been asked some variation of the following question:

"Now that CMS is postponing ICD-10 implementation, can I stop or slow down my work on ICD-10?"

First, CMS has not postponed ICD-10, they are considering "postponing compliance for some entities"--postponing compliance (i.e., they won't penalize you for a given period of time) is different than postponing implementation.  At this point, we don't know who is affected, or for how long.

ICD-10 is coming. Although the compliance period may stretch past October 1, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CMS have not indicated a cancellation.  Understanding the impact of ICD-10 on your organization is still critical.  There is much to be done, and physicians, their staff, and hospitals must begin (continue) to assess how their current documentation and systems must change and improve in order to meet the realities of ICD-10.

I was reading an ICD-10 article the other day, and I was struck by something.  The ICD-9 was implemented in 1979.  That year, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was given to Allan M. Cormack and Godfrey N. Hounsfield for their development of CT Scanning!  Although CT scanners are still a useful tool today--the state of medical knowledge and technology has grown by leaps and bounds in those 33 years.  ICD-9 as a coding system is too limited to have grown with it.   In order to keep pace with the science of medicine, we must move to ICD-10.

Don't stop now---don't even slow down.  There's too much work to be done.   We know it can be overwhelming.  Start with your top 10 diagnosis codes in ICD-9--and look at the possible equivalent codes in ICD-10, using a tool like the 2012 General Equivalence Mappings.  Will your current documentation support an appropriate code in ICD-10? If not, what changes are needed? Simply defaulting to a "not otherwise specified" code may not be enough.

In an Internal Medicine practice, there are large areas with a lot of impact--Diabetes, CVAs, acute MIs--all of these have many increased codes, and complexity.  Taking a look at your documentation now will help you understand where you need to make changes to support the codes that best describe your patient's illnesses.

As to the compliance postponement---we'll be monitoring HHS and CMS websites daily.  When more information becomes available, we'll be sure to post it here.

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