by Dava Stewart
In April, Congress delayed the implementation of International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, commonly referred to as ICD-10, through language added to another bill, H.R. 4302. This delay was the second and caused an uproar among health IT and data professionals — particularly students — insurance companies, software providers, and others who had spent the previous year preparing for the switch. However, many DCs across the country may have quietly breathed a sigh of relief.
For small offices, such as the vast majority of chiropractic practices, a huge change in billing and coding such as moving from ICD-9 to ICD-10 is expensive, difficult, and worrisome. Those offices using an electronic health records (EHR) system will likely have less difficulty in switching than those that have not yet made a complete switch to an EHR. However, any healthcare practice that bills insurance companies or Medicare will have to make major changes.
Practitioners and office staff are often over-worked and have little time to learn how to use an entirely new coding system. Having an extra year to learn about ICD-10 and figure out the best way to implement it without as little disruption to the practice as possible may seem like a miracle. Experts suggest using the additional time wisely.
Writing for the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), Dr. Evan Gwilliam said the best thing to do is to spend a few minutes each week preparing for the swap to ICD-10, in much the way you might approach learning a foreign language. Other experts echo the sentiment, saying that preparing for the switch is like training for a marathon.
Offices that were fully prepared to implement ICD-10 by the original deadline of Oct. 1, 2014, will need to maintain readiness, much the way a runner facing a delayed marathon would or the way practice must follow learning a foreign language. DCs ready for the switch are ahead of the game and can spend the next year tweaking and polishing instead of frantically learning.
ICD-10 has been completed since 1992, and implementation has already been long delayed in the United States. The change is coming, though, and lots of resources are available. Here are a few:
- The website ICD10monitor.com offers various wasy to learn about ICD-10, including a podcast and news articles.
- The ACA offers resources, classes, and more for both members and non-members.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) offer information that may be helpful for small practices preparing to switch.
Regardless of where a practice is on the road to ICD-10, it never hurts to spend some time each week increasing preparedness.