No news is great news for ICD-10 implementation

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

This could have been the worst of all weeks for advancing ICD-10 implementation. Congress considered and passed a must-have $1.1 trillion spending bill.

This was the perfect vessel that some ICD-10 foes wanted to carry another ICD-10 delay. But that didn't happen.

Maybe it was the hospital and health system associations that wrote a letter to Congressional leaders. Or AHIMA's #ICD10Matters rally. I'm going to credit AHIMA's educational efforts for Capitol Hill.

To appreciate that, consider the statement issued by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX):

“As we look ahead to the implementation date of ICD-10 on October 1, 2015, we will continue our close communication with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure that the deadline can successfully be met by stakeholders.

“This is an important milestone in the future of health care technologies, and it is essential that we understand the state of preparedness at CMS. Following the most recent delay of ICD-10, we heard from a number of interested parties concerned about falling behind or halting progress. We would like to acknowledge and thank these organizations and individuals for opening up this dialogue and expressing their thoughts and concerns regarding this issue. It is our priority to ensure that we continue to move forward in health care technology and do so in a way that addresses the concerns of all those affected and ensure that the system works.”

First, look at what is not in the statement:

  • "Flaming water-skis"
  • "Bureaucratic burden"
  • "Obamacare"

This is a statement focused on advancing healthcare and preparedness. That means that Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) better be able to demonstrate that the healthcare industry will be ready for ICD-10 implementation. Otherwise, Congress might overtly give vigorous foes the two-year delay they wanted for Christmas.

Now if the American Medical Association (AMA) surveys procrastinating physicians who blame healthcare vendors for a lack of ICD-10 preparation..... Let's not go there.

Volunteer for ICD-10 End-to-End Testing in April

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will conduct end-to-end testing April 26 through May 1. The goals are:

  • Providers and submitters are able to successfully submit claims containing ICD-10 codes to the Medicare Fee-For Service (FFS) claims systems
  • CMS software changes made to support ICD-10 coding result in appropriately adjudicated claims
  • Accurate remittance advices are produced

CMS is looking for  850 volunteers to submit ICD-10 claims. Testers who are participating in January's testing are able to test again in April and July without re-applying.

Speaking of applying, healthcare providers can participate by:

  • Volunteer forms are available on your MAC website.
  • Completed volunteer forms are due Jan. 9.
  • MACs and CEDI will notify the volunteers selected to test and provide them with the information needed for the testing by Jan. 30.

All test participants must be able to:

  • Submit future-dated claims.
  • Provide valid National Provider Identifiers (NPIs), Provider Transaction Access Numbers (PTANs), and beneficiary Health Insurance Claim Numbers (HICNs) that will be used for test claims.
  • Testers will be dropped if information is not provided by the deadline.

There is more end-to-end testing scheduled for July 20-24.

AMA Pushes for Two Year ICD-10 Delay

Sue Bowman, Senior Director of Coding Policy and Compliance and Public Policy & Government Relations at American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), weighs in on a proposed two year ICD-10 delay:

  • Another ICD-10 delay would hinder our progress toward data-based decision making in healthcare.
  • The "scare tactics" of too much cost and complexity have been repeated too many times.
  • AHIMA is dedicated to an Oct. 1, 2015, ICD-10 deadline.


Medical Scribes May Ease EHR, ICD-10 Aches

  • Medical scribes are often medical students or college students, there is a trend toward professionalizing the profession.
  • Scribes often handle many of the documentation duties.
  • The position could ease many of the documentation burdens of ICD-10 coding.
  • Many physicians are reluctant to let go of documentation.

(HealthLeaders Media)

5 Common ICD-10 Errors Hospital Coders Need to Avoid

  • The number “0” is often confused with the uppercase letter “O”
  • Number “1” is confused with the lowercase letter “I”
  • Incomplete records or codes associated with wrong medical test case number
  • Most hospital coders rely on coding software rather than code books
  • Often specificity and laterality are left out of many codes