What the ICD-10 Codes Transition Means for Medical Billing & Coding

On October 1st, 2015, the United States government mandated a shift from the ICD-9 coding system to the ICD-10 codes system that that has been used in almost every country in the world except for the United States.  This change will increase the number of codes from 20,000 to over 155,000. Therefore, healthcare providers will have to choose from eight times as many codes to enter into the medical record of a patient.

These codes will describe both medical diagnoses and inpatient procedures. Healthcare providers must understand that the ICD-10 transition will have a significant impact on their medical billing and coding procedures. Here are a few points that all healthcare providers need to understand about the ICD-10 codes:

A Decrease in Productivity: With the ICD-10 codes transition, healthcare providers should expect a reduction in productivity. The American Health Information Management Association explained that rigorous training, hiring more coders, and taking advantage of available technologies will all help practices maintain productive coding.

Twelve Month Grace Period: To help providers become familiar with ICD-10, there will be a twelve-month grace period for errors on coding. During this time, there will be no penalties for coding flaws. However, this doesn’t mean that this is a free-pass to let the quality of your documentation decrease. This time should be used to evaluate the thoroughness of your documentation and to make sure that there will be no surprise denials a year from now.

Software Changes: Healthcare providers must make sure that their software is able to submit the ICD-10 codes. If the software will not comply with the ICD-10 transition, a new software option should be selected. In addition, healthcare providers may want to outsource a reliable medical billing service such as Applied Medical Systems that can comply with the transition.

Longer Codes: Compared to ICD-9 codes, ICD-10 codes will be longer. While ICD-9 codes were three to five digits, ICD-10 codes will be anywhere from three to seven digits. All codes will begin with a letter except for “U” and three digit codes will all contain a letter that will be followed by two numbers.

For more information on how the ICD-10 transition will affect your healthcare facility, contact Applied Medical Systems today. We can help ensure that the medical billing and coding procedures in your practice transition to ICD-10 successfully.  Applied Medical Systems provides medical billing and services along with medical practice management services to healthcare providers in the Triangle area. Contact us today to learn more.