ICD-10: Change is the One Thing No One Can Avoid

By Marsha Vaughn

Sr. Eyefinity Education Consultantpix

Change is the one no one can avoid. In fact, the only thing you can be sure won’t change is “that things will change”.

How you manage that change to benefit your practice is up to you. Let’s look at how you can handle up-coming ICD-10 code changes.

First order of action is to understand why the change is happening.

With ICD-9 we are running out of codes to effectively communicate patient diagnoses and care. ICD-9 was first implemented more than 30 years ago – I was carrying a bag phone then and the cost of gas was about a buck.

Today, many strides have been made to improve the care, reporting, and sharing of health data through technology. The transition to ICD-10 is the next step. Instead of general codes with lengthy explanations, there will be specific definition in the used code itself. You may be asking will this really simplify things or only make it more complicated as new technology being used for the first time often does? There’s good news, you won’t be the first one trying it. Other countries went to ICD-10 coding years ago, thus it’s an international standard that has been tried, tested, and is actively in use.

Still, change management is challenging.

It is a big change for everyone who diagnoses and bills from the large hospitals to the one doctor towns and specialized practices, such as eyecare. Some of these businesses will suffer if payments were delayed.  And it is a big change for all of the software developers and insurance companies. But, as a patient, as a parent, and as a child of aging parents, I don’t want anyone’s health care compromised, medical coding confused, or billing delayed. Which means I’m committed to making this change a success.

 Sure, ICD-10 is a government mandated change, but I prefer to look on the bright side.

As an employee of VSP Global, Software Division, I work hard with my team to develop the underpinnings of coding and billing. Luckily, we’ve already had a jump on ICD-10, when the year delay was announced. This additional year to prepare makes me certain that the entire medical and insurance communities are at high levels of development and readiness.

Furthermore and specific to our industry, an internal analyst told me that the top ten codes billed through VSP claims comprised 91% of all vision claims and nine out of ten of those ICD-9 codes have a one-to-one match with an ICD-10 code. This means the new codes we will have to learn might not be as difficult as some people make it out to be. How long did it take us to get the ICD-9 codes stuck in our heads? Once the change is made, we will do the same with ICD-10.

Check back with us weekly for more ICD-10 stories from the front line.

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