The real reason why physician groups want to keep using ICD-9 codes

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

I have to wonder about the state healthcare information technology (HIT) in this country. Major medical associations can't seem to let go of ancient technology.

I'm talking about all the letter writing. Last week the American Medical Association (AMA) wrote to Congress about burden of ICD-10-CM/PCS. On Thursday, the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius complaining about how HIPAA 5010 is causing payment disruptions.

Please tell me they at least used Forever stamps bought before the postal rates went up.

Honestly. Letters? Not emails - which are almost as bad. Doesn't anyone know the best way to be heard is complain in 140-character Tweets or Wall posts? Someone send them a telegram that this is 2012. Grab a smartphone and stream a video to YouTube or

I don't know why this surprises me. It's consistent to use outdated technology to protest being forced into upgrading from outdated technology.

OK, I admit to having a little too much fun with this. The medium shouldn't overshadow the concerns that physhicians have concerning ICD-10 implementation. That would be like dismissing ICD-10 benefits by making walked-into-lampost and macaw-bite jokes. The  MGMA letter  does detail some problems that healthcare providers are having with medical claims being rejected by payers. Those issues are being brought up by other industry professionals.

HIPAA 5010: What's causing reimbursement delays

So I talked to Ken Bradley, vice president of strategic planning at Navicure, about what's happening. He says a lot of the problems are only being found now that payers are handling  so many claims. Bradley downplays the number of rejections and gives the impression that the vast majority of claims are clearing. But Bradley and the MGMA cite long wait times to get hold of someone who can address the rejections. Which is a clue to how many medical claims are not clearing. (ICD10 Watch)

Why politicians won't care about ICD-10 implementation

I try to put the AMA's vigorous opposition into context of the broader political debate over healthcare reform. It's not pretty. (ICD10 Watch)

HIMSS G7 Report Offers Insights on Five Areas of Risk for ICD-10 Conversion

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has a report that identifies five areas that healthcare providers could experience problems:

  1. Financial impacts and sustainability
  2. Work force
  3. Vendor readiness
  4. Provider payments
  5. Fraud, waste and abuse

The lengthy report explains the problems and offers guidelines for mitigating the risk. It also suggests strategies based upon the size of the healthcare organization. (HIMSS Press Room)

ICD-10: From Assessment to Remediation to Strategic Opportunity

John Dugan takes a deep dive into what's needed to prepare for your ICD-10 implementation. It offers good tips and a view toward improving medical care - not just complying with the law. (Healthcare Financial Management Association)

ICD-10: Choose Your Attitude

Albert Oriol, chief information officer at Rady Children's Hospital San Diego, has a couple good points about preparing for ICD-10 implementation. First, they're starting computer assisted coding (CAC) and clinical documentation improvement (CDI) projects now. Hopefully they can boost productivity and get documentation where it needs to be. Second, consultants are a big help but the hospital is careful about spending too much on expertise that will leave when the contract is up. "We wouldn't want that knowledge to walk out the door after this particular project comes to port." (H&HN Daily)

ICD-10 Basics: Advancing Healthcare IT

Ann Frischkorn Chenoweth explains that ICD-10 maps better from SNOMED CT - the language fundamental to electronic health records (EHRs). And the structure of ICD-10 works better with computer assisted coding than ICD-9 codes. (3M Health Information Systems)

A Comparison between a SNOMED CT Problem List and the ICD-10-CM/PCS HIPAA Code Sets

A study finds 69.1 percent of SNOMED CT terms have equivalent ICD-10-CM/PCS terms. Which backs up what Chenoweth has to say. (Perspectives in Health Information Management)

Leverage Your 5010 Testing for ICD-10 Testing? I think not….

Steve Sisko explains why your HIPAA 5010 test transactions can't be recycled for use as ICD-10-CM/PCS test transactions. (ICD-10 Impact to Health Care Payers & Providers)

It’s October 2013 and Your Transition to ICD-10 is Over - Now what?

Steve explains why the ICD-10-CM/PCS transition won't be finished Oct. 1, 2013. (ICD-10 Impact to Health Care Payers & Providers)

Why the number of ICD-10 codes is not a big deal

Rhonda Butler explains why the number of ICD-10 codes isn't a legitimate argument. Basically, no one will ever need to remember each one. It's a system that's designed to be navigated not memorized. (PhysBizTech)

ICD-10: What About Patient Satisfaction?

Lorraine Schnelle warns that medical practices need to be careful when Oct. 1, 2013, approaches. If the right code set isn't used, it can impact the patient. (The BridgeBlog)

Why Meaningful Use and ICD-10 implementation projects aren't working together

They should. But for smaller hospitals and medical practices, it's not working that way. A couple people explained to me why. (ICD10 Watch)

ICD-10 Challenges: 5 takeaways for a smoother transition

Some hospitals that could be considered early adopters of ICD-10 planning offer some lessons they learned so far. (ICD10 Watch)

Planning for ICD-10 Conversion

This is an introduction to ICD-10-CM/PCS that has a few good, practical tips. (Physicians Practice)

New Survey Finds Healthcare Providers Prioritize Physician Documentation and Charge Capture Process Improvements to EaseTransition to ICD-10

Health information systems vendor PatientKeeper has released results of a survey of 173 finance, billing and coding professionals at hospitals and physician practice groups nationwide. Basically they know they need to improve clinical documentation and move to electronic charge capture systems to be ready for ICD-10 coding. And they have a lot of work to do. (PRWeb)