With the impending switch to ICD-10, orthopedic practices must begin preparing to convert their ICD-9 codes over to ICD-10 if they want to keep their operation running smoothly and profitably with steady management of both patients and data. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has provided some helpful online resources for medical practitioners looking to ease the transition to this new coding system, including timelines, checklists, and implementation guides. To help convert your most commonly used codes from ICD-9 to ICD-10, there are several important steps to take.
Understand The Differences Between ICD-9 And ICD-10
Some of the most prominent differences between ICD-9 and ICD-10 that medical practitioners need to be aware of include:
- Larger codes: ICD-9 only uses five characters where the first letter is alphanumeric and the rest are numeric. ICD-10 has seven characters with alphanumerics used in each position. The first character always a letter, with additional characters being alphanumeric.
- More detailed diagnoses: ICD-10 codes incorporate the concept of laterality, which allows physicians to distinguish between left and right sides of the body. Also, certain codes have been combined to be more descriptive.
- Quantity of codes: ICD-9 contains only about 13,000 diagnostic codes, whereas ICD-10 has 68,000 existing diagnostic codes in its latest incarnation.
Also note that there is not a single, clear mapping technique that can be used to convert ICD-9-CM to ICD-10-CM codes. This presents many challenges to medical practitioners.
Analyze Your ICD-9 Usage
After gaining a good grasp on the differences between ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes, you have to start identifying where these ICD-9 codes are used in your practice. Get your administrative staff to conduct an audit of your authorizations, precertifications, medical records, referrals, superbills, and any other areas where ICD-9 codes might be present. Once you have these lists in place, make note of which ones you use the most often. Be sure to also consider how your software currently interfaces with ICD-9 codes. Additionally, it is a wise idea to reach out to your vendors and talk to them about the way that you use ICD-9 with their software, and see how they plan on upgrading the software to handle the new coding system.
Training & Testing The New Codes
Once you have a detailed analysis of where most of your codes are found and how they are used at your practice, you can start the process of switching your ICD-9 codes for ICD-10 codes. The CMS advises appointing a team within your firm to champion the transition to ICD-10 and make sure that individual departments and groups are on track. Make sure that the specific staff members that use coding the most at your office are aware of how to properly implement ICD-10. CMS provides many resources for ICD-10 certification and training, and there are plenty of other sources for information about ICD-10 implementation as well. After you get started using ICD-10, you must test these codes in your system to ensure that everything is running smoothly. Start by checking your reports and records for accuracy, and from there move on to testing billing and claims. All the while, make sure that you keep an eye out for inconsistencies or problems with any part of your coding.
For many practices, the transition to ICD-10 will be long and intricate. However, with proper planning and a sufficient understanding of which codes your practice uses the most and where, you can successfully make the switch. The experts at Healthcare Information Services, L.L.C are available for expert consulting that will prepare you to excel under the new ICD-10 system.
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