The transition to ICD-10 from ICD-9 is making a big splash within the medical coding field. According to a recent survey 22% of hospital and healthcare system participants say they won’t be ready for the October 14th transition deadline. In fact, the survey pointed out that at time of publishing, 74% of respondents have yet to complete an ICD-10 gap analysis.
Whether the adaptation for ICD-10 includes updating EHR, practice management systems, clearinghouse, coding and/or data management, the most challenging issue for hospitals is in training employees, as well as a lack of preparedness from payers (resulting in delayed payment). Assuredly, with ICD-10’s 140,000 possible codes, as compared to IC-9’s mere 17,000 codes, medical coders have their work cut out for them.
With an estimated 70-80 hours of training and other transition costs, one study estimates implementation costs, thusly:
- $8,500 to $20,250 for small medical practices
- $72,649 to $166,649 for medium medical practices
- $726,487 to $1,666,487 for large medical practices
Medical coders are at the heart of this transition, as they will be taking on “new roles helping medical practices use electronic health records (EHR’s) and work with data.” Therefore, ICD-10 ready medical coders will be more in demand than ever before, especially specialty-specific coders as increased emphasis on cross-functionality for efficiency is paired with an increasing need for automation to increase productivity. Coders that can both assimilate both the volume and the new format these codes require, as well as have an aptitude for new systems implementation will be a highly sought after resource in the coming months.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
The key to staying ahead of the curve is not only in gap analysis, but in the effective training and management of versatile teams of medical coders. Focusing specific coders on specialties will decrease the estimated 10% drop in physician productivity, as well as shorten the amount of time providers spend in the transitional period. Automation practices will also boost efficiency when executed correctly. These operations vary between organizations, but there are already studies that are testing certain automation tools and finding over 20% more accurate coding pertaining to prescriptions. In short, the right coders in the right place will ensure a more seamless transition into ICD-10, at lower cost to the hospital. Does your organization have the right coders in the right place? Are you ready for the ICD-10 shift? Your organization can stay ahead of the curve. Contact us to learn more.