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Staying Optimistic Despite ICD-10-CM Delay

Faculty member Kathleen Peterson, MS, RHIA, CSS, explains why public health professionals should promote the implementation of the International Classification of Diseases Coding System, commonly referred to as ICD-10-CM.

Faculty member Kathleen Peterson, MS, RHIA, CSS, explains why public health professionals should promote the implementation of the International Classification of Diseases Coding System, commonly referred to as ICD-10-CM.

May 27, 2014

The federal government’s action on March 31, 2014, to delay the implementation of the International Classification of Diseases Coding System, commonly referred to as ICD-10-CM, until at least October 1, 2015, surprised many health care professionals. For some, there was huge disappointment, and for others, there was a sense of relief. The latter reaction is likely more common because the conversion to ICD-10-CM is a massive change for health care professionals, but this delay is an opportunity for better preparation.

Faculty member Kathleen Peterson, MS, RHIA, CSS, will teach an overview >course on ICD-10-CM coding guidelines at NWCPHP's 2014 Summer Institute. She explains why public health professionals should promote its implementation and get ready for the change.

Why should public health professionals promote the implementation of ICD-10-CM without further delay?

Public health professionals have a vested interest in this initiative because of their commitment to ensuring population health. This is accomplished, in part, by tracking disease trends in the community. Converting to ICD-10-CM will allow practitioners to capture data on infectious diseases, injuries, leading causes of mortality in the United States, and national reportable diseases with more specificity, aiding their investigations. Currently the United States is the only industrialized nation not using the ICD-10-CM code set to report morbidity. This hampers researchers in sharing public health data globally.

Recent reports of two cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the United States brought new attention to the lack of detail in ICD-9-CM, the current disease code set. Since there is a “code freeze” on ICD-9-CM, MERS would be assigned to a code for “other viral disease infection.” Using ICD-10-CM, MERS would be coded to “coronavirus as cause of disease classified elsewhere,” capturing information on the type of virus and allowing the expanded subcategory to include a specific code.

What should public health professionals do to continue their preparation for the change? 

  • Continue to work with software vendors to be sure they are “staying the course” and will have information systems in place for ICD-10-CM.
  • Assess organizational needs to determine providers’ awareness of the detailed and specific clinical documentation needed to assign complete and valid ICD-10-CM codes, as well as to design tools for providers to capture the expanded data requirements through forms or electronic templates.
  • Train staff who work with diagnosis codes on the application of ICD-10-CM to the extent necessary to do their jobs and schedule practice time to become proficient.
  • Participate in opportunities to conduct testing with payors or clinical data reporting agencies to ensure ICD-10-CM data will be accepted for processing without delay when implementation does occur.

During the Summer Institute course, participants will gain hands-on practice assigning codes to diagnoses and medical conditions and mapping between ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM. Register today and prepare for a successful transition.

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