Friday, 7 April 2017

Preparing for the Change to ICD-10

The ICD-9-CM will be replaced by the updated ICD-10 in late 2014. In order to comply with this change, healthcare providers, insurance companies, and clearinghouses must all be prepared to fully adopt ICD-10-CM by October 1, 2014. All claims filed with ICD-9-CM after that date will be rejected as non-compliant. Procedures arranged or completed before that date may still be filed with ICD-9-CM.
This switch is happening for a variety of reasons. For one, the ICD-9-CM is out of room. ICD-9-CM is set up so every category can only have 10 subcategories. As it currently stands, the ICD-9-CM can only classify around 13,600 diagnoses, compared to ICD-10-CM’s estimate of 69,000. As diagnoses continue to expand, the system can no longer support the breadth of medical study. The ICD-10 is also better suited for modern technological advances in the field, allowing for more optimized analysis of disease patterns and treatment outcomes.
There are similarities between the two code sets. The conventions and guidelines for assignment codes are largely the same, as is the organization of both sets. For instance, the first chapter, or category cluster, in both ICD-9-CM and ICD-10 is “Certain infectious and parasitic diseases,” so any professional qualified to manage ICD-9-CM should not have a problem with ICD-10. However, there are also key differences between the ICD-9-CM and ICD-10 systems, requiring a conversion on the part of the medical coder.
The composition of codes in the ICD-9-CM is primarily numeric, with limited alphanumeric additions, as discussed above. Valid ICD-9-CM codes are three, four, or five digits. In ICD-10-CM, all codes are alphanumeric and may be anywhere from three to seven digits, depending on the need for specificity. For instance, in ICD-9-CM, the cluster for “Certain infectious and parasitic diseases” is 001-139. In ICD-10 that same cluster would be labeled A00-B99.
Here is a broader example of the tabular breakdowns in ICD-9-CM and ICD-10:
  • Certain infectious and parasitic diseases (001-139)
    • Intestinal infectious diseases (001-009)
      • Cholera (001)
        • Cholera due to vibrio cholerae (001.0)
        • Cholera due to vibrio cholerae eltor (001.1)
        • Unspecified (001.9)
  • Certain infectious and parasitic diseases (A00-B99)
    • Bacterial infections, other intestinal infectious diseases, and STDs (A00-A79)
      • Intestinal infectious diseases (A00-A09)
        • Cholera (A00)
          • Cholera due to vibrio cholerae (A00.0)
          • Cholera due to vibrio cholerae eltor (A00.1)
          • Unspecified (A00.9)
As you can see, the two code sets are largely similar, but with key differences. The alphanumeric numbering system of ICD-10 follows the same tabular tree as the numeric system in ICD-9-CM, adding a new subcategory within the A00-A79 cluster. As medical coders prepare for the shift, plenty of resources will be made available to translate ICD-9-CM into ICD-10.
Because ICD-10 and ICD-10-CM have a significantly larger set of codes than ICD-9 and ICD-9-CM, direct translation between the two code sets is impossible. The translation of ICD-9-CM codes into ICD-10-CM codes using a “crosswalk” program will be discussed in Course 11.

Watch for Coding Notes

In many cases, codes will have notes attached to them that prevent redundancies or inaccurate coding. These notes help medical coders accurately translate the diagnosis into code, and may include instructions like:
  • “Code first,” in which case the coder must list an underlying condition or prior procedure
  • “Includes,” which tells the coder which symptoms or afflictions the code contains
  • “Excludes” or “excludes1,” which are especially important. Unique to ICD-9-CM, the “excludes” note instructs the coder that there is another, more appropriate code for a certain diagnosis. “Excludes1” indicates that the term listed under the “excludes1” field cannot occur simultaneously with the term listed above it. For example, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) is coded as R65.1, but excludes severe sepsis (R65.2).
Those these notes can be complicated, they are essential for coding accurately. Even the smallest mistake can cause a medical claim to be denied, creating more work for the office and possibly delaying vital payments from the insurance company to a patient.

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