Health Information Management

Include physicians during transition to ICD-10: Three tips to help open the lines of communication

HIM-HIPAA Insider, August 30, 2011

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As coders sharpen their knowledge of anatomy and physiology and hone their ICD-10-CM/PCS skills, one question remains: Will physician documentation be specific enough so coders can apply their newfound knowledge?

This question, of course, may remain largely unanswered until implementation of the new coding system. However, experts say acknowledging the role of physician documentation in the transition to ICD-10-CM/PCS is important. Providing tailored and succinct education to physicians can ensure that when coders are ready to assign ICD-10-CM/PCS codes, the documentation won't be a barrier to their success.
Physicians generally accept ICD-10-CM/PCS, although some admittedly are frustrated by and fearful of the added documentation that may be required, says James S. Kennedy, MD, CCS, managing director of FTI Consulting in Atlanta.
"Most physicians know that the AMA fought the conversion from ICD-9 to ICD-10 primarily on the grounds that physicians needed more time to adjust to the new code sets," he says.
The decision of many physicians, particularly those in the office setting, to delegate the transition to office staff members so they can focus on practicing medicine has only complicated matters, says Kennedy.
This is nothing new; physicians often don't take the time to understand the billing aspects of healthcare, says Darren Carter, MD, president and CEO of Provistas in New York City. However, it's important for physicians to have at least a basic understanding of ICD-10-CM/PCS and its effect on data reporting and reimbursement.
Editor’s note: Click here to read the entire article in the August issue of Briefings on Coding Compliance Strategies.

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