The healthcare industry must start using an additional new 5,500 ICD-10 codes in October 2016

icd10-codesLast October, the implementation of ICD-10 wasn’t the disaster many anticipated. Healthcare professionals who expected the type of havoc associated with the Y2K scare in 1999 were pleasantly surprised, much in the same way that we were greeted by the Millennium with relative, unchanged harmony.  But Y2K was a “one and done” event. ICD-10 is a process, having already presented a lot of grey area and delay. On October 1, 2016 – a year after ICD-10 finally dropped – CMS will add another 5,500 codes to the ICD-10 coding system. The lump sum is a combination of diagnosis codes and hospital inpatient procedure codes. (Approximately 3,550 of these are cardiovascular system codes.) This significant backlog was intended to ease the healthcare industry into the new code set. The additions will reflect recent advances and changes in medicine, providing more granular data.

October 1, 2016, the date slotted for the release of the new codes also happens to be the same date that CMS has planned to lift the yearlong flexibility period they have offered.

While this addition may still seem like another daunting task and huge undertaking with many moving parts, there will be no reason to fear yet another “codapocolypse” – if your organization is prepared. The new, impending deadline will prove to be a big test to the processes that organizations have implemented since October 2015, but if you haven’t experienced much impact on revenue or denial rates and you’ve already broken your ICD-9 habits, you’re probably in good shape. Our team did not see a meaningful decrease in first pass payment for MediTouch users and we had not only completed our preparations for ICD-10 well before implementation, but we designed our system to make the conversion as smooth as possible for our users. “We were all fearful of what would happen October 1, but when all was said and done, we realized what a great job HealthFusion did to make the transition semi painless,” Practice Manager of Medical Associates of Erie Jennifer Chase had said, months after implementation.

However, if you’re already struggling to meet the demands of the new coding system, the more stringent requirements and new influx of codes will only worsen the situation. It may be time to invest in a system that will make the ongoing ICD-10 process not only smooth but also successful for your practice. Our ICD-10 code search engine is powerful and accepts common terms in addition to clinical terms. The MediTouch software will get you to the most specific code (with laterality) that you need and supports correct coding convention. For more information on preparing for the next phase of ICD-10, read our infographic.