The International Classification of Diseases (10th edition) (ICD-10) codes will take effect on October 1, 2013. While this may seem far off, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), physicians should begin preparing for the changes immediately. In addition, the CMS will require use of the new Version 5010 for the electronic submission of claims beginning in early 2012. Although the Version 5010 represents less of a structural transformation than ICD-10, its impact will come in just a few months. Failure to prepare for either change can (and most likely will) result in unpaid claims.
The ICD code change affects all healthcare providers subject to HIPAA. Even providers who do not handle Medicare or Medicaid claims must make the transition. In describing the magnitude of this change, the American Academy of Family Physicians observed that, while ICD-9 contains 14,000 diagnosis codes containing 3-5 digits each, ICD-10 contains 69,000 diagnosis codes with 3-7 digits. The purpose behind this change is to improve the structure and specificity of the coding system. In addition, since the ICD-9 was originally developed by the World Health Organization and is over thirty years old, an update is needed. Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes for outpatient procedures will remain unaffected; although with time, it can be expected that the CPT codes will reflect the greater specificity of the ICD-10.
The change was enacted through federal regulation, 45 CFR § 162.1002, and will require the use of two types of ICD-10 codes. The first code type is the ICD-10-CM (ICD-10) and it applies broadly to healthcare treatment settings. It must be used for diseases, injuries, impairments, other health problems and their manifestations, and causes of injury, disease, impairment, or other health problems. See 45 CFR § 162.1002. Furthermore, ICD-10 codes will sometimes indicate external causes. For example, T39.011 will indicate poisoning by aspirin, accidental. Non- specific codes will remain available. The second code is the ICD-10-PS which applies only to the inpatient hospital setting. It applies to inpatient procedures and other services relating to prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management. Id.
In order to prepare for the conversion, a physician should consider the effect of the conversion on staff, budget, and future revenues. Staff will require instruction on the workings of ICD-10 and its many changes from ICD-9. Care will need to be taken to assure that sufficient resources are available to be allocated to training and compliance. Now is the time to lay a good foundation and make sure your staff has the tools to “get it right.” You do not want to suffer any loss in revenue because you were unable to timely implement the ICD-10 codes. This is particularly important because, from October 1, 2013 onwards, you may only use the ICD-10 codes. With this much lead time, governmental and other payors are not likely to be too sympathetic to coding errors.
In addition, physicians might want to consider the use of software aids and the provider may want to contact their practice management or billing software vendors for assistance. Physicians who contact their vendors should ask for details about compliance, especially costs and whether upgrades are covered under their existing contract. CMS provides General Equivalence Mappings (GEMs) to translate ICD-9 codes into ICD-10. However, GEMs cannot substitute for learning the new system, and practices will be held responsible for errors.
Furthermore, physicians should consider whether ICD-10 could affect their agreements with payors. Employment productivity bonuses relying on the ICD-9 codes could also be affected. In order to prepare, agreements using the old terms should be reexamined and updated. The bottom line with these changes is the sooner