ICD-10 focus should be a data-driven healthcare environment

ICD-10 is only the means to an end--with the end being reliable and meaningful data to improve patient care, according to Joseph C. Nichols, M.D., a board certified orthopedic surgeon.

Most of the industry has viewed ICD-10 simply as a coding change, Nichols writes at ICD10monitor.com, but there is more to it than just that.

"What's at stake is ... the reliability of all health information as we move forward into a new data-driven healthcare environment," he says.

However, implementation of the coding system has been delayed numerous times, and the calls for another delay continue.

The Coalition for ICD-10 recently said advocating dual coding as a means to protect small physician offices from inadequate preparation for ICD-10 amounts to another delay in implementing the code set.

While ICD-10 allows for more specific and complete information of a patient's health, Nichols says, there also needs to be complete observation, reliable documentation and consistency in coding for data to improve.

To that end, ICD-10 is the "tail wagging the dog," Nichols writes. The change that should come out of it is a "data-driven, value-based purchasing, accountable care environment."

Once the industry reaches that new data-driven environment, then ICD-10 becomes a provider's friend, not an enemy, he concludes.

Physicians, though, still have concerns ahead of the implementation date of Oct. 1. Last week 100 physician groups--led by the American Medical Association--sent a letter to Acting Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Andrew Slavitt expressing several issues with the transition.

In addition, a survey from cloud-based healthcare billing and payment solutions vendor Navicure found that only 21 percent of physician practices feel they are on track with ICD-10 preparation efforts.

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