Health Information Management

ICD-10 misconceptions and myths busted

HIM-HIPAA Insider, September 8, 2014

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Myth 1: ICD-10 includes too many codes
 
Plenty of talk about ICD-10 has focused on the number of codes it contains. Coders will go from 17,849 ICD-9-CM codes to 69,823 ICD-10-CM codes. While the numbers may sound frightening at first glance, the change isn't really that scary, says Sue Bowman, RHIA, CCS, senior director of coding policy and compliance for AHIMA in Chicago.
 
In fact, Bowman says she is not sure how the idea of "too many codes" took hold in the first place. Think of the code book like a phone book. The Chicago phone book includes considerably more phone numbers than the phone book for Williamsburg, Virginia, but you'd still look up a number the same way in both of them. Similarly, ICD-10-CM contains considerably more codes, but you'll still look them up the same way you did in ICD-9-CM, Bowman says. It's not harder to find the code you want just because one book contains more of them.
 
In fact, the increased number of codes is actually a positive thing. "The increased specificity makes it easier to know if you are at the right code," Bowman says. "If the code is too ambiguous or vague, you aren't sure."
 
Many ICD-9-CM codes are open to interpretation. As a result, coders may spend more time trying to choose the most accurate code because they don't have a clear-cut choice. That's particularly true when it comes to reporting inpatient procedures. One ICD-9-CM Volume 3 code can represent more than 100 very different procedures that require different levels of care. That ambiguity can leave coders confused and guessing about correct code selection. ICD-10-PCS contains 71,924 possible codes that provide detailed information about the procedure the physician performed.
 
ICD-10 codes are also more clinically relevant, says Donna Smith, RHIA, project manager and senior consultant with 3M Health Information Systems in Salt Lake City. "That makes it easier to select the correct code."
 
Continue reading "Seven ICD-10 misconceptions and myths busted" on the HCPro website. Subscribers to Briefings on Coding Compliance Strategies have free access to this article in the September issue.



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