Ring in 2015 – Ring Out MD Myths about ICD-10

Posted on January 7, 2015 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Wendy Coplan-Gould, Founder and President of HRS Coding.

Physicians see ICD-10 as a mixed bag of distraction, expense and long-term advantages. They’ve heard grossly exaggerated messages about ICD-10’s complexity and cost. Confusion has led to complacency and obstinacy across physician practices and medical groups.

Conversely, some physician practices and medical groups eagerly await ICD-10’s ability to accurately describe their high-risk patients, improve data mining capabilities, and demonstrate complexity of cases. The opportunity for cleaner data, better quality scores and greater patient safety are three more physician-friendly benefits of ICD-10 as described in my previous ICD-10 post on EMR & HIPAA.

Recent research conducted with a 20-physician focus group, and presented during AHIMA’s 2014 Convention & Exhibit, revealed three common themes with regard to physician perceptions of ICD-10 and its effect on their practices.

Physicians are concerned about the following:

  • How specific their clinical documentation has to be for correct ICD-10 code assignment.
  • Obtaining accurate reimbursement under ICD-10.
  • Receiving ICD-10 training from the hospitals they serve.

With the advent of a new year, now is the time for hospitals and healthcare systems to dispel physician myths about ICD-10 and actively engage practices—one medical group at a time.

Five ICD-10 Realities and Physician Engagement Strategies

Is ICD-10 as difficult for doctors as once portrayed? The resounding answer for 2015 is “no.”

When introduced one physician office at a time, the implementation of ICD-10 is relatively easy. Consider these proven strategies to foster greater physician buy-in for ICD-10.

  • Most physicians will only use a small subset of ICD-10 codes—dramatically decreasing the amount of time required for training and preparation (1-2 days). Target training efforts toward the 80 percent of diagnosis and procedure codes that are used repeatedly within each practice or specialty.
  • When hospitals focus on improving EHR documentation templates, physicians are more productive, efficient and engaged in ICD-10 efforts. Foster inclusion by helping physicians build better documentation templates across all EHR applications.
  • Physicians learn best from other physicians. Find physician documentation champions within each specialty and make ICD-10 learning fun.
  • The best way to minimize claims denials and ensure proper reimbursement for both hospitals and physicians under ICD-10 will be the avoidance of non-specific codes. Focus on helping physicians document better and give them tools such as real-time documentation aides and prompts to create more succinct, accurate and complete clinical documentation.
  • Physician practices must also be included in end-to-end testing for ICD-10. Be sure to include them within your organization-wide testing plans. Even when testing is only for payer acknowledgement, it provides segue for physician practice coding and billing staff to practice submitting ICD-10 codes.

Blaze a New Path with Physicians in 2015

Last year left many hospitals feeling defeated regarding ICD-10 and their physician preparedness efforts. Money was spent and staff resources were exhausted. Congress dealt a devastating blow to ICD-10 budgets, timelines and implementation teams.

But the ship hasn’t sailed. There is still time to actively engage your medical staff in preparing for ICD-10. Erase your original message to physicians that ICD-10 is difficult and expensive. Replace it with knowledge gleaned over the past two years, recent physician research, and new implementation timelines based on specialty.

By focusing on the clinical data advantages of ICD-10 and bolstering physician productivity and efficiency, hospitals can blaze a new path toward the new code set—one practice at a time.

About Wendy Coplan-Gould
Wendy Coplan-Gould is the embodiment of HRS. She has led the HIM consulting and outsourcing company since 1979, through up and down economies and every significant regulatory twist and turn of the last three decades. Long-time clients and new clients alike are on a first-name basis with her and benefit from her focus on excellence, reliability and flexibility. She has been published in the Journal of AHIMA and other recognized publications, as well as conducted countless professional association presentations.

Prior to starting HRS, Wendy served as assistant director, then director, of Health Information Management at Baltimore City Hospital. She also was associate director of the Maryland Resource Center, which provided data for Maryland’s Health Services Cost Review Commission, an early adopter of the Diagnosis Related Group (DRG) methodology. Wendy is available via email: wendy@hrscoding.com.