Without adequate healthcare coding and consulting services on their side, practices won't be able to understand the new codes that ICD-10 compliance brings with it. Some critics say that there are too many codes in the coming update and that many of them are "bizarre" or irrelevant. Though the conversion process will bring changes for some, working with an expert helps to make them less daunting.
Earlier this month, an article by the Medical Association of the State of Alabama (MASA) appeared on AL.com dissecting the code changes of ICD-10, which is introducing around 70,000 codes on top of ICD-9's current list of nearly 13,000. Among these are codes that cover improbable occurrences, including killer whale bites or damage from "falling spacecraft."
These sound somewhat frivolous, but a guest opinion piece for the same source by Ronald Franks, the president of MASA, is serious about the problems that too many codes pose to physicians. He argues that "Health care should be about the patient, not the paperwork."
"Patients trust their physicians to diagnose and treat them to the best of their ability so the patient's health can improve," he writes. "But if physicians can't find a code or put down the wrong code, insurance companies may delay or even deny necessary treatments."
However, this is why medical organizations benefit when they have compliance consulting services to help them respond to the new codes. These codes are meant to help, and getting support to assist with their coding activities will let the practice focus on the real improvements they can make to their care. Understanding the resources the government has already made available, like testing checklists and guidelines, is another important step.