Currently, medical billing and coding specialists use a diagnostic coding system put into practice by the World Health Organization. Over the years changes and updates have been made. Right now, we’re still operating on the coding system of ICD-9, but the clock is ticking and in 2013 the new ICD-10 system will be put in place. What are the differences and how will they affect medical billing and coding specialists? More importantly, how can specialists prepare themselves for the changes? Here are the answers.
What is the ICD-10 and How Will it Affect Medical Billing and Coding Specialists?
The ICD-10, set to take effect on October 1, of 2013, will not necessarily have new information, since of course the anatomy is the anatomy, and coding is based on anatomical procedures. The new codes will provide more details to each procedure, so there will be some changes current medical billing and coding professionals will need to prepare for.
How to Prepare for the Upcoming Changes of the ICD-10 Coding
The new set of codes will definitely present a greater challenge than coders have had to deal with in the past. A more in depth knowledge of anatomy will be required. With ICD-9, the current coding set, a new or inexperienced coder could realistically figure out how to code a certain procedure without having a true knowledge of the exact procedure. When the new system kicks in, that will no longer be possible.
What will the medical coding specialists need to brush up on? Well, get ready to break out your medical terminology book because a thorough review of anatomy and physiology will be in order.
Changes between the new system and the old will require coders to have a thorough understanding of the circulatory system as well as the arteries, nerve conduction of the heart, and an understanding of the anatomy of the brain.
An example of the changes that involve a deeper knowledge of details can be seen in the following example. In ICD-9, the code for an intracerebral hemorrhage is assigned as a 431. When looking at the same condition in the new ICD-10, the medical coder will need to first determine whether the hemorrage is traumatic and nontraumatic. Once that fact has been established, a traumatic hemorrage due to brain trauma will have one category, while nontraumatic hemorrhages involving the brain will be divided into one of nine different categories that the coder will need to have the anatomical knowledge to decide between. Is it an intracerebral hemorrhage in the brain stem or in the subcortical hemisphere of the brain. As you can see, coders without a proper handle on detailed anatomy are not going to skate by.
What’s the reason for the new and highly detailed coding system of the ICD-10? Having these details coded properly will greatly help medical researchers in their studies. Data will be tracked and analyzed in order to identify particular diseases, age and genetic related variables, prediagnosis of diseases, and possible recovery times. These detailed coding requirements will provide useful information in every area, including tracking costs and how they relate to quality medical care.
So, a word of advice to current and future medical coders. Learn and have as rich of an understanding of anatomy as possible. Also, consider taking anatomy related classes for your continuing education credits.