ICD-10 not as challenging as physician practices may think

Despite recent reports that show physician practices falling behind in ICD-10 implementation, that may not be the full story, says Jim Daley, director of IT at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and co-chair the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange.

Many may have responded negatively to a recent survey by WEDI--in which less than 50 percent of physician practices said they would be ready for the new code set--because they don't understand what's needed to make the transition, Daley tells PhysicianPractice.com.

For example, he says practices won't need to know all of the 68,000 codes in ICD-10; many of them they won't use, such as ones for hospital inpatient procedures.

"Depending on the office, they may use a few dozen codes. Some may go beyond that, but it's not going to be 68,000," he says.

In addition, physicians won't have as much to do for the transition as other players in the industry, according to Daley. Physicians don't have as many systems or complex processes as large health insurance companies or large hospital systems.

Ways physicians can ensure ICD-10 readiness on Oct. 1 include ensuring software is up to date, having discussions with training partners and using resources offered by organizations like WEDI and the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services, he says.

He adds that there should not be any more delays to the transition, calling readiness concerns likely overstated.

However, despite the deadline being less than two months away and nothing in the pipeline that would halt the switch, industry professionals and lawmakers on Capitol Hill still want to ease the transition.

Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Tom Price (R-Ga.), want a transition period for ICD-10 by mandating dual coding in ICD-9 and ICD-10 for six months.

In addition, CMS introduced measures in conjunction with the American Medical Association that allow for Medicare claims, for the first year of ICD-10 use, to not be denied or audited based solely on the specificity of diagnosis codes, as long as the codes on such claims are from the correct family of codes in the new code set.

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