Posted in ICD-10 & Coding

Three things that can affect ICD-10 coding in 2017

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale
Three things that can affect ICD-10 coding in 2017

U.S. healthcare has been using ICD-10-CM/PCS coding for more than a year so there doesn't seem like anything new could happen. But there are three things that might make their marks on the code sets.

New coding updates

Obviously any ICD-10-CM/PCS updates are considered developments. But I'm interested in seeing how the updates are handled.

Healthcare providers are going to panic because the 2017 ICD-10 updates set them back (which we do not know yet) or they will yawn because they have coding systems that tackle the new codes without creating hassles.

If the latest updates don't throw healthcare providers out of sorts, it's possible physicians will appreciate the new granularity they wanted to be able to document on medical claims.


There are reports that diagnosis coding productivity is returning to ICD-9 levels. The procedural coding levels are another matter. But that is a challenge for hospitals that have resources to throw at the problem.

How productivity levels for clinicians and medical coders trend will greatly affect how ICD-10 coding is perceived.

Soon-to-be President Donald Trump

This isn't meant as an insult, but it is doubtful that President-elect Donald Trump knows what ICD-10 coding is. Very few successful and intelligent people outside of healthcare do. So he probably has no opinion on what should happen to it.

But he has nominated Rep. Tom Price to lead Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Price never has been a fan of ICD-10 coding. He has co-sponsored anti-ICD-10 bills.

But it's hard to imagine Price asking Congress to revert U.S. healthcare back to ICD-9 coding. That would create more havoc and cost than the original ICD-10 transition. Besides, he's going to be busy reimagining Obamacare and reforming Medicaid.

By the way, I predict in 2018 I will have to write posts explaining why we still have ICD-10 coding despite the repeal of Obamacare.

But whatever Trump and Price come up for healthcare, they're going to want to target waste and fraud. Politicians love to campaign against waste and fraud. So it would be a great idea to create a healthcare system that pays for benefits by eliminating waste and fraud.

Someone could persuade Trump that ICD-10 coding will be a great tool to identify the waste and fraud. That could be more persuasive than physician complaints about how onerous and burdensome this ICD-10 mandate is.

If Trump promises the best electronic health records (EHRs) and massive reductions in healthcare regulations and red tape, ICD-10 will work beautifully.

This could be the year that great change comes to healthcare, and ICD-10 coding stands a chance of being part of that.