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ICD-10: Top 3 myths and facts for ASCs

It’s no secret that the use of ICD-10, the 10th addition of the International Classification of Diseases by the World Health Organization (WHO), will commence in approximately six months, and ambulatory surgery centers should be taking the required steps to prepare for as seamless of a transition as possible.

The start of ICD-10 has been delayed more than once, and this has blurred the lines between myth and fact:

Myth 1

ASCs should continue to plan to implement ICD-10 under the assumption that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will grant another extension.

Fact 1

The HSS has no plans to extend or delay the implementation of ICD-10 for all HIPAA-compliant entities, so ASCs need to continue taking the necessary steps to officially make the switch ICD-10 on October 1, 2015.

Myth 2

Since ICD-10 was actually developed and implemented around the world years ago, it’s probably out of date already.

Fact 2

ICD-10 codes have been updated annually prior to a partial code freeze to stay on pace with advances in technology and the healthcare environment. The partial freeze was implemented by the ICD-9 Coordination and Maintenance Committee, and only codes capturing new technologies and diseases were added to ICD-9 and ICD-10. No ICD-9 updates will be made past October 1, 2015, and regular updates to ICD-10 will resume on October 1, 2016, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Myth 3

The increased amount of available codes will make ICD-10 more challenging to use.

Fact 3

ICD-10 will have almost five times the number of diagnostic codes and will require greater specificity and detail, but that doesn’t mean it will be necessarily more complex. Almost half of the new codes are simply to differentiate between the two sides of a patient’s body. Having a greater selection of codes will actually make it easier to find the proper code because they will be more precise. Additionally, ICD-10 will have an alphabetic index and electronic coding tools to help billing and coding staff find the correct option.

With these facts in mind, ensuring that an ASC’s billing and coding staff receive optimal training should reduce the chance of negative impact on the financial health of the center. If the staff is not as prepared as needed, it might be the time to consider outsourcing RCM to a provider whose employees have been adequately trained to handle ICD-10 efficiently.