By Elizabeth Woodcock, MBA
SPRING 2013 – Primary care physicians are up in arms about the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10), and no doubt the new diagnosis system is complex and highly specific. But although the transition will create some upheaval and loss of time, in the long run ICD-10 may bring financial and clinical benefits for primary care doctors.
The biggest complaint is that ICD-10 contains lots more codes: 68,069 in the 10th edition compared with the 14,035 currently in use. Despite the widespread consternation, this change was inevitable. The current diagnosis coding system — the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-9-CM) — is outdated. And the 10th edition, which is only now being adopted, was introduced in 1992, so it’s no spring chicken either.
Much of the developed world has been using a modified version of the 10th edition for more than a decade. Many hospital administrators in the United States have opposed it, because hospitals must convert to a new diagnosis coding system and will have to transition all inpatient procedure coding to the new ICD-10 procedure coding system. That process will undoubtedly consume a significant amount of resources.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that hospital coders will require about 50 hours of transition training. That compares with 16 hours for physician coders. Even so, there’s no question that 16 hours will be a burden for many primary care physicians, especially when you add in software upgrades and other transition costs.
Still, you may appreciate these benefits: