Seldom has any mandate or compliance regulation had the potential to disrupt, so severely, the revenue stream of almost every healthcare provider. The transition to ICD-10 is going to require one of the most intense and longest learning curves in the history of U.S. healthcare. As everyone is aware, proper coding of the care delivered is critical to your reimbursements. Moving from ICD-9 to ICD-10 is going to be a giant leap — not a baby step.
A survey reported in the 8/14/13 edition of HISTalk claims only 38 percent of providers participating in the survey were at least somewhat confident in their practice’s ability to transition to the ICD-10 code set. This tells me that healthcare providers are going to need all the help they can muster to make this leap. This help should include a documented plan of action, intensive training, outside consulting services, new technologies or some combination of all of these. You are going to need the courage to start planning as soon as possible and seek help as necessary! Procrastination will not delay the impending deadline and its resulting impact on your revenue stream.
In regard to ICD-10 assistance from available technologies, changes in medical coding automation have made excellent strides in recent years. Today, computer-assisted coding (CAC) tools are proven technologies that can automatically identify and assign medical codes from within your clinical documentation with astounding accuracy.
Many are ICD-10 ready right now!
This technology can infuse the immediate expertise you need to streamline your organization’s coding processes, while your staff gets “up to speed” on handling the new codes on their own. This will give you time to become increasingly more compliant with the new requirements of payer and quality reporting. Most CAC technologies can be integrated into your electronic health record and financial systems producing vast financial benefits and productivity gains.
Your coders should not be concerned that they will be replaced by CAC. It is simply another tool for your ICD-10 transition work plan. CAC, although very accurate, will always need to be reviewed and verified by expert coding professionals. CAC simply injects automation into the process. It can never be the final authority on the correct code. It can, however, relieve workloads and provide expertise to help coders do their jobs more productively and efficiently.
The rapid growth of CAC in today’s healthcare delivery process is due to the significant benefits it provides:
• Improved accuracy
There is a significant improvement in accuracy. Many systems on the market today offer accuracy rates in the 97+ percent range. Think about what a first pass coding rate of this magnitude can do for your organization and your coders’ productivity after the ICD-10 deadline becomes a reality. What will these results do for your coders in terms of decreasing denial rates, reducing auditing discrepancies and finding lost charges. A tool that can increase your accuracy rate will help your organization capture charges that would otherwise be lost during the transition.
• Improved compliance right out of the box
By getting it right the first time with the aid of CAC, you will improve your compliance efforts. Since coding is accurate and consistent to begin with, your reworks will be reduced and your compliance will be constant.
• Improved consistency
Consistency is a must throughout the coding process. Without consistency that ensures guidelines are met, problems arise. Consistency will create confidence in your staff and in your coding processes. This will also provide more accurate results for both clinical and financial analyses.
• Improved productivity
CAC will improve your productivity significantly. Many hours spent manually coding can be reduced significantly with excellent accuracy rates.
Take advantage of everything that can help you mitigate your ICD-10 transition risks – planning, in-depth training, expert consulting, and CAC tools. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The consequences of not being prepared are too great!