The much anticipated ICD-10 has been in the works for since 1983 and it promises to provide for greater accuracy in diagnostic coding. In fact, ICD-10 includes 155,000 codes which is a significant increase as compared to the 17,000 that were available in ICD-9CM. These greater coding options will be critical to accurate and effective medical billing practices going forward.
While the full enactment of ICD-10 was expected in October of 2011, in January 2009 the federal government announced that the implementation date had been pushed back to October 2013. This significant amount of additional time should allow for all physicians, medical facilities, and billing services plenty of time to ensure that their systems are fully up-to-date with the new codes.
However, making certain that your systems are updated as well as being certain that the in-house billing staff is educated on the new codes may prove to be cost prohibitive and troublesome to some medical practices. For offices that have limited staff and/or limited resources, this will be an inconvenience at best and nightmarish at worst.
In those cases, using a trusted third party billing service would be the way to go. All reputable billing services will be working hard over the course of the next three years to make sure that their systems are completely converted to ICD-10. This includes not only making sure that software and systems are updated, but also that their full range of staff has been educated and trained on using this new vast array of diagnosis codes. This includes both physician and procedure codes (ICD-10-CM) as well as hospital based codes (ICD-10-PCS).
To maximize the continued revenue for medical practices, the billing service will need to be adept at the accurate marrying of CPT codes with ICD-10 codes. Being trained in this arena means more clean claims, more accurate claims, more efficient coding and, hopefully, additional income for the physician practice. It also means that the billing service will be able to offer to their clients more robust and detailed reporting so that the medical practice can take note of trends and adjust their practice patterns as necessary.
While the fall of 2013 may seem like a long way off, the ICD-10 conversion deadline will rapidly be upon us. Now is the time to make a determination about allowing a competent, reliable and efficient medical billing service to handle the details for your practice and provide your office not just with claims processing, but also peace of mind.