Three reasons why ICD-10 opponents are wrong

By Carl Natale
09:41 AM

Healthcare plan Florida Blue had an interesting webinar last month. "Why ICD-10 May Not Be As Difficult As Some May Believe" featured Joseph Nichols explaining why ICD-10 coding won't be so bad.

Nichols is a Board-certified orthopedic surgeon, WEDI co-chair, author, former CEO and current industry consultant.

Here's how Nichols sees the most common complaints:

There are too many codes

Nichols breaks concedes the overall number of diagnosis codes has dramatically increased. But many medical practices won't have to deal with most of them. It will depend on specialty.

"In some clinical areas, there’s been a dramatic increase in the number of codes, in some areas it’s stayed about the same, and in some areas it’s actually gone down significantly," according to Nichols.

ICD-10 documentation is an unnecessary burden

Nichols says ICD-10 specificity reflects medical concepts used by physicians now. ICD-10 coding requires those concepts are documented.

"I know when I go in to see my physician now, I want to make sure that the information that I think is important ends up in my record, so that the next person I see or the person I get referred to has that information and I don’t have to repeat it or they don’t have to remember it. "

ICD-10 coding has no effect on quality of care

Nichols concedes that ICD-10 coding and documentation is unlikely to help treat a patient directly in a single encounter. But he makes the point that healthcare is about many patients, physicians and encounters:

"We have a lot of Mary Jones out there that we’re trying to see what works and why, and in order to do that, we need to have a broad understanding of what works and what doesn’t work, and we need to have it on a population basis, and right now ICD-10 is the only national standard that we have for defining the patient’s condition in a way that’s interoperable and reasonably standard."

The transcript is worth reading because Nichols makes more points about how ICD-10 coding can affect medical practices. It's good homework.

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