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ICD-10: What's different this time?

Despite that déjà vu feeling, a number of circumstances have changed since the last time ICD-10 was delayed
By Tom Sullivan
07:12 PM
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The healthcare industry is now closer than it’s ever been to an ICD-10 compliance deadline — if only in calendar days. Whereas the previous pair of delays each came approximately seven months ahead of the former respective deadlines, today we are barely more than 5 months away from the ominous First of October.  

But other than that is anything actually different this time?

Well, yes, according to several industry veterans who have spun around the seemingly endless ICD-10 track before.

“The facilities that I’ve worked closely with have been more proactive in ICD-10 training and testing this time around,” said Stuart Newsome, vice president of medical coding and billing specialist Alpha II. “We’ve had interest in dual-coding and reporting, perhaps in order to better judge staffing needs for budgeting purposes.”

Trinity Health, for instance, had already taught a number of its physicians ICD-10 once, which realistically means that it’s going to have do it all over again before the compliance deadline arrives.

“We’ve been through this whole course. We initially hired a company to train doctors and, you know, they weren’t thrilled with it,” said Trinity’s Acute Care CMIO Errol Soskolne, MD. “We’re not sure how much they remembered because there’s a lot of information required for ICD-10.”

This time around, however, Trinity plans to use 3M Health Information Systems’ 360 Encompass MD to essentially guide physicians across its 89-hospital network through the ICD-10 documentation process, which Soskolne believes will make it easier for doctors to learn the codes they need to know and, at least in the capacity, smooth the transition.

Granted, Trinity is among an elite corps of hospitals to have beta tested 3M’s new tool, launched here at HIMSS15, but other vendors are also bringing ICD-10 tools to market.

A wide variety of vendors have unveiled new tools for ICD-10 at the conference, from coding specialist Precyse expanding its educational coding platform with the next-generation Precyse DNA, an abbreviation of “determine, nurture, and accelerate,” and Wolters Kluwer announcing that Leap Code Group Manager will be generally available next month. And Infor introduced version 3.5 of its Healthcare Revenue Cycle management software with capabilities for handling the ICD-9 to ICD-10 transition.

In addition to new tools coming to market since the last delay, the latest meaningful use rules to come from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services relax meaningful use as a competitive priority to ICD-10. It conducted end-to-end testing of its own systems with select partners, after which the Government Accountability Office said CMS is ready and in a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing earlier this year “all but one testifier said we are ready to move forward this year,” according to Jim Daley, WEDI ICD-10 co-chair and director of IT at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.

One thing that has not really changed? The feeling that at some point the code set conversion will actually happen.  

The University of Mississippi Medical Center, for its part, has already set up a help desk specifically for ICD-10, according to Leigh Williams, UMMC’s revenue cycle director. Calling it “triage for doctors,” UMMC uses the Bomgar remote support platform so coders will be able to screen-share with physicians when they are not sure how to code in ICD-10.

The health center has piloted it with coding managers, is currently assigning staff and UMMC chief health information officer John Showalter, MD, said he loves that “it’s sneaky physician education,” and the coding managers thus far really like it as well.

“One of the major things that is different this time around,” Showalter said, “is that the big hospitals feel ready and we’ve moved into the reality that any further delay is just costing us money.”