ICD: Episode 10: The Coding Menace

Brandon Glenn at Medical Economics reports on the imminent arrival of ICD-10:

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ planned transition to a new set of health-care diagnosis and procedure codes could lead to big cost increases to physician practices of all sizes, according to a recently released report from Nachimson Advisors, a Maryland-based health-care information technology consulting group.

The cost to a typical small practice of switching to the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) code sets within the HHS’ time frame will be more than $83,000.  Nachimson says a typical small practice is one that consists of three physicians and two staff members.

In August, the HHS announced that it would update universal health-care diagnosis and procedure codes with the expanded ICD-10 set and will require providers to fully implement them by October 11, 2011. Providers currently use the ICD-9 set, which was developed 30 years ago. HHS has called ICD-9 “outdated,” due to what it calls the codes’ “limited ability” to accommodate new procedures and diagnoses. 

For a medium-sized practice, the cost increase of the transition to ICD-10 will be in excess of $285,000, according to the report.

Dr. Wes can hardly wait:

Imagine, 290 codes just for diabetes! Yeeeee haaaaa! Diabetes with foot ulcers on the right foot gets one code, diabetes with foot ulcers on the left foot gets another code, diabetes with foot ulcers on both feet, but not involving the shins gets another code… I mean, a new code for every nuance of disease! You get the drift! Isn’t this SPECIAL? Just think of the COST SAVINGS those clever bureaucrats have found!

Given the costs and potential problems with this, I wouldn’t be surprised if ICD-10 implementation got pushed back to sometime in 2012.  Of course, that would constitute more of a reprieve than a solution.

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