Medical coding is an integral part of healthcare administration. Trained medical coders extract information from the documentation created by a healthcare provider. ICD-9-CM has been around since 1979 with a few revisions done to it through the years. However, there will be a drastic change in this scenario as ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS is all set to be implemented shortly. This sure does change the face of the medical coding industry while generating an acute need for outsourcing.
Impact of ICD-10
ICD-10 being the 10th revision of the codes comes with many additions. The two systems under ICD-10 are ICD-10-CM (clinical modification) and ICD-10-PCS (procedure coding system). The ICD as a tool is created with the specific purpose of tracking diseases and global health issues, including mortality statistics. ICD-10 will be used by healthcare providers to payors across the world.
ICD-10 will be replacing ICD-9 in October 2015. Its implementation is believed to affect the healthcare industry in several ways. There is a significant increase in the number of diagnosis and procedure codes. ICD-9 had 13000 diagnosis codes and 3000 procedure codes. ICD-10 will have 68000 diagnosis codes and 87000 procedure codes.
Unlike ICD-9, the codes will be seven to eight alphanumeric characters in ICD-10. Additionally, to induce the scalability factor, ICD-10 has the provision to add new codes to the existing ones. The codes are more specific in comparison, and all this is geared to minimize billing errors and improve the accuracy of records. This should speed up the processing of claims and may significantly reduce instances of claims being rejected and re-submitted.
The changes will impact healthcare professionals who directly handle the data, like coders, billers, transcriptionists, and those on the administration side, as they have to be retrained. Doctors have to keep in mind the specificity of ICD-10 while preparing reports. Health insurance professionals may have to relook at their clauses based on these changes. The IT industry will need to redesign software applications of management systems used by billers and insurers.
Why you’d be better off outsourcing the coding process
The implementation of ICD-10 will be a costly one since the complete backend operations of the healthcare system is dependent on it. Due to the substantial amount of retraining required to implement ICD-10, many in-house coders have opted out of their jobs. Hence there is a dearth of trained coders in the current market. This makes it necessary for the healthcare setups to outsource coding to companies like VeeTechnologies that have an efficient HIPAA compliant infrastructure and teams of coding professionals that are already trained in ICD-10. Outsourcing the medical coding tasks to such specialized organizations will ensure that the process is accurate and well monitored, reducing the errors and claim denials. This saves costs in the process and creates a robust healthcare system. Thus, with the ICD-10 implementation, outsourcing coding will be cost-effective and will ease the impacts of transition to a great extent.