AHIMA Releases ICD-10 Resource for Physicians

The American Health Information Management Association has released an online ICD-10-CM/PCS resource aimed at alleviating physician concerns about implementing the new code set. As AHIMA notes, a significant number of myths about ICD-10 persist. This document, which tackles the most common myths is called, “Setting the Facts Straight About ICD-10: What Physicians Need to Know About the Transition.”


Training and Documentation Time

A sentiment frequently expressed by physicians about ICD-10 is the number of new codes and the documentation required by doctors to code an encounter. The burden of extra time spent on documentation, physicians argue, can get in the way of diagnosis and treatment.

To address this concern, AHIMA advises physician practices to “complete a documentation assessment to determine how their current documentation will support coding in ICD-10-CM. This activity can be completed now using existing patient records by taking a current chart, coding it in ICD-10-CM, and determining if there is enough information in the record to capture the necessary concepts for ICD-10-CM.”

AHIMA’s resource notes that the level and duration of training will vary from physician to physician, depending on their specialty. Physicians working in hospitals and health systems will have their coding needs met by full-time coders. For smaller physician practices, the level of ICD-10 training they get will be determined by the amount of time they’re currently spending on ICD-9.

“If the physician does no coding, then training will be limited to the overall concepts of the specialty and any documentation changes. The physician may want to learn more about coding, if they wish. If the physician does any amount of coding, then they will need to have full training on the code set and coding guidelines,” according to AHIMA’s resource.

The sheer number of new codes sounds daunting to individuals not trained in ICD-10. While ICD-9 only has roughly 15,000 codes, ICD-10 has 64,000. However, analysis has shown that when mapping ICD-9-CM to ICD-10-CM codes, approximately 78 percent of the ICD-9 codes map “one-to-one” with an ICD-10-CM code, according to AHIMA.

However, code selection software has the ability to help physicians select the appropriate ICD-10-CM, though there’s still going to be a learning curve. As AHIMA notes, “An increase in number of codes does not make it harder to locate the right code, any more than the size of a dictionary or phone book affects the ease with which a word or phone number is looked up.”


Benefits of ICD-10

AHIMA’s ICD-10 paper also covers the multitude of ways that more granular coded data can improve preventive medicine, lead to better treatments, and make the exchange of health data simpler.

If ICD-9 is allowed to stay in place, it will limit the nation’s ability to analyze healthcare costs or outcomes, exchange meaningful healthcare data for individual and population health improvement, and move to a payment system based on quality and outcomes.

The rest of the online resource addresses how ICD-10 will improve all the factors listed above, and emphasizes the difference between ICD-10 and other code sets such as CPT, ICD-11, and SNOMED CT.

Click here to read the document in full.


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