Medical Documentation Falls Short of ICD-10 Coding Demands
SOURCE: MedPage Today ~ April 12, 2013
By David Pittman,
Nearly 65% of clinical documentation doesn’t contain enough information for coders to use for billing under the upcoming ICD-10 coding system, a coding expert said here at the American College of Physicians annual meeting.
The switch to the new coding system will greatly increase the specificity of diagnostic codes, and most doctors don’t provide enough detail for office coders to translate that to ICD-10, said Rhonda Buckholtz, vice-president of ICD-10 education and training at AAPC, a medical coding society based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Her estimate of the percentage of charts that were inadequately documented came from a survey of patient charts done by the AAPC, but further detail on the survey was not provided.Complicating the switch for physicians, most payers said they won’t reimburse for unspecified codes, which are commonly used by doctors who may not know how to exactly diagnose a patient when they see them, she said. “Under ICD-10, if we’re not ready, we’re not going to get paid.”
Doctors have bemoaned the switch to ICD-10 — short for International Classification of Diseases, version 10 — because of the tremendous increase in complexity from the current ICD-9. The number of diagnostic codes will increase from nearly 14,000 to around 69,000. The number of procedure codes will jump from around 3,000 to roughly 87,000.
ICD-10 requires much greater detail on location of ailments, cause and type, and complications or manifestations compared with ICD-9. For example, diabetes will require complications to be incorporated within a single code. And asthma is listed as “mild,” “mild intermittent,” “mild persistent,” “moderate persistent,” or “severe.”
Therefore, Buckholtz said physicians need to start work now to ensure they will provide enough information for billers to properly code. (more…)