Number of Diagnosis Codes to Skyrocket from 14,000 to over 69,000 under ICD-10
The new ICD-10 diagnosis codes take effect on October 1, 2015, and all healthcare providers are required to comply with the new regulations or they may have trouble with insurance reimbursement. These changes in the medical billing practices are significant enough to have caused marked slowdowns in billing and payment in other countries.
So what can a healthcare provider expect when their office phases out ICD-9 and incorporates the ICD-10 billing requirements into their healthcare practice? First, there is an increase in the number of billing codes, from 14,000 to 69,000.
Coders will need to have a more detailed knowledge of anatomy and physiology, as well as medical terminology. Coders will also have to work more closely with doctors and educate them on proper coding methods. Superbills, that had been used in the past as a way of quickly coding diagnoses and services, may no longer be effective timesavers.
Unfortunately, more codes to choose from may render superbills obsolete. Physicians will also have to invest in new software designed to accept the longer digit codes.
The new ICD-10 codes also mean changes in inpatient coverage. Doctors will need to be more specific in their documentation and code observations such as stages of healing. The new ICD-10 codes include more payment limitations for services. Case managers’ phone call volume will increase as they deal with an increased need for patient education on coverage charges.
Medical providers can expect a slow down in accounts receivable which decreases cash flow. Medical billing departments can expect an increase in call volume for confusing or rejected claims; the number of billing audits may also increase.
Other countries that have already implemented the ICD-10 codes report a 50% longer turnaround time for medical accounts receivable and a decrease of 50% in coder productivity.
If the changes are implemented over time and proper education is given, these changes hopefully will have only a short-term and minimal effect on the financial health of the healthcare provider.