The Oct. 1 compliance date for ICD-10 has come and gone, but increased scrutiny is being placed on the transition with providers still questioning whether the benefits of the switch will outweigh the costs.
ICD-10 was originally implemented with the goal of increased coding specificity and billing standardization.
ICD-9 coding dates back to 1979; long enough to make medical professionals believe that the system no longer reflects the needs of an advancing medical community. The switch to ICD-10 will supposedly allow physicians to apply newer and more precise billing codes that are less burdensome to healthcare professionals.
Despite the supposed benefits of the transition, the backlash against ICD-10 is growing. Several industry experts have complained about the viability of the new coding system. John Halamka, CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, noted:
“A few years from now [people] will discover that the whole idea of ICD-10 wasn’t helpful to anyone … ICD-10 was never designed to be a billing vocabulary, it’s an epidemiological vocabulary. It’s the wrong tool for the wrong purpose.”
Harsh Dhundia, director at consulting firm Pace Harmon, echoed these sentiments by describing how the increased number of codes would lead to worsened productivity and lost revenue:
“If a doctor sees a patient … and if there isn’t enough supporting documentation, you’re going to be forced into a lower value code, so you get compensated lower.”
Losing potential revenue is a common concern for ICD-10 critics. Robert Tennant of the Medical Group Management Association commented on how the switch would create more costs for independent clinics:
“The government is not defraying any of the cost; all the costs are being borne by physician practices … you’ve got a lot of skepticism regarding the value of moving to this code set,” he said.
An incoming Transition
While new coding procedures help clinics become more efficient, many practices are vocally opposing the transition. The switch to more coding may help standardize billing across the medical field, but the growing number of detractors indicates a disconnect between the priorities of governmental organizations and private healthcare practices.
The much-touted benefits of the transition may not be addressing actual needs faced by healthcare practitioners. But time will tell the full impact of more diverse coding on the medical industry.
Written by Dean Van Dyke, Vice President, Business Process Optimization
Dean Van Dyke is the Vice President of Business Process Optimization for iBridge. He brings more than 18 years of customer relations, business process outsourcing, lean six sigma, program/project management, records management, manufacturing, and vendor management experience to iBridge. Mr. Van Dyke was the former head of Microsoft’s corporate records and information management team, and served honorably for over fourteen years in the U.S. Navy and Army National Guard. He received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of South Dakota and his Master’s in Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.