News Feature | October 19, 2015

ICD-10: The First Roundup

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

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The ICD-10 deadline has come and gone and the healthcare industry is left assessing which predictions were right, which were wrong, and what impact the new coding system is actually having. We’ve put together this collection of updates to give you a clearer picture of the biggest news around ICD-10.

Notable Glitches Are Happening
While many in the industry have been surprised not to see the doomsday scenario they expected, some major issues have cropped up. Healthcare IT News highlights some of them.

  • Some biller wait times have been ridiculously long (the article cites a 3-hour hold time.)
  • Some customer service personnel aren’t trained on basic details of the implementation (such as how it intersects with claim admission and discharge dates.)
  • The CMS grace period exists, but other insurers aren’t granting a year of leniency. This has resulted in some doctors adding over an hour a day just for code correction.
  • Referrals have been slowed down. According to one doctor, this is because their largest payer requires on-line referral submissions, but doesn’t yet allow ICD-10 codes for submission. The payer also no longer allows paper referrals.

Coders Are Still In Demand
Healthcare IT News reports that healthcare organizations that may just be getting started in their ICD-10 work have likely been left out in the cold in an environment where coders trained on ICD-10 are in short supply. Many of these organizations will have no recourse but to hire an outside firm. It is still unclear how coding professionals and vendors will be impacted long-term by the implementation.

Practice Fusion’s Got Big Things Going On
The free EHR platform published a press release summing up its ICD-10 experiences shortly after the deadline. So far they’re boasting one million patient visits charted with ICD-10 in the first week with the most commonly used codes being

  • Essential (primary) hypertension (I10)
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus without complications (E11.9)
  • Hyperlipidemia, unspecified (E78.5)
  • Low back pain (M54.5)
  • Anxiety disorder, unspecified (F41.9)

Some People Are Still Anxious
While things are going smoothly so far, Medical Economics tells a story of looming uncertainty. Their article speaks with 8 of their staff and doctors on what they’re seeing in their practices so far in the transition. The overall consensus is that things are calm (minor issues notwithstanding), but concern remains as to what might come about in the future.

Insurers See Smooth Waters
According to Forbes, insurers are happy with what they’re seeing thus far. Both UnitedHealth and Humana are reporting on smooth rollouts after two years of delays — something some experts in the industry credit for the current results. Humana has reported that only .03 percent of calls from providers around benefits, spanning date of service, claim status, and authorization have been related to ICD-10. United similarly has reported that call volumes from providers have been “normal” with only a “slight uptick” in claim denials.