ICD-10 Benefits: A specific example of improving patient care

By Carl Natale
09:43 AM

One of the persistent arguments arguments against ICD-10 coding is that it will have no effect on patient care.

On that point, Rhonda Butler seems to agree that updating medical coding doesn't help treat patients:

"ICD-10 is not a data wonder drug. It does not instantly improve the day-to-day care of patients. How could it? Data doesn't work that way. But the idea is that over time better data can contribute to a better system for our data-driven society."

She writes a sane, logical analysis of what ICD-10-CM/PCS is supposed to accomplish. If you want an example how data can contribute to better care, pay attention to what David Saintsing, director of business development at Convene Technologies, has to say.

"You don't have to go too many steps in any of these processes to link it to an outcome for patient care,"  says Saintsing. "The people in the trenches in these small hospitals aren't seeing the big picture."

[See also: Why smaller hospitals face bigger challenges to implement ICD-10 coding]

Those steps involve collecting data that can be mined and reported in a way that improves patient care. "One of the reasons that ICD-10 is important is that it expands the quality of that data tenfold," says Saintsing. "And so people like me who want to research topics after we gather these data for several years - we're going to have tremendous much more information that we're going to be able to mine and do comparisons and draw conclusions that improve the care."

Like with diabetic care. He sees the opportunity to collect much more data about what's working and not working for diabetic patients. "And I guarantee you in your lifetime there will be a major change in diabetic care," says Saintsing. "We will reduce the diabetic epidemic in this country as a result of collecting this data."

"That is a guaranteed benefit."

Carl Natale blogs regularly at ICD10Watch.com.