Thanks to the HHS mandate, in six months the healthcare system will be facing the transition to ICD-10. This transition may spell trouble for some healthcare infrastructure providers and large facilities as experts are anticipating data and financial losses. In fact, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have indicated the transition may not only cost healthcare facilities significantly more money than previously thought, but have other unwelcomed side effects as well. Although no cute or funny code exist for “Pre-traumatic ICD-10 Transition Syndrome”, or “Pre-phobic ICD-10 Disorder”, clinicians may soon be treating it.
All medical professionals will be affected by this transition. This includes those who may already be anticipating changes to their coding systems.
Understanding the transfer from the ICD-9 to ICD-10
By the fall of 2014, the entire healthcare industry must transfer from the ICD-9 to the ICD-10 classification of disease. This is thanks to an HHS mandate. This transfer will involve going from a system that used roughly 14,600 codes to one that uses over 68,000 different diagnostic codes. A transition this big will affect every level of the healthcare system. This includes the patients, institutions, and medical professionals.
Problems that are anticipated with the ICD-10 transfer
Multiple studies have indicated that the problems anticipated with this transfer are far reaching. They will affect every level of the industry. There are expected to be immediate problems with short term staffing and supply-chain management. Every professional associated with the healthcare system will have to learn a new coding method. This includes billing specialists, insurance companies, and healthcare providers. The problems associated with errors and overlap alone are going to be extraordinary.
Effects on long range planning
Healthcare providers have spent decades honing data that lets them know how things need to be managed. This affects how providers and institutions move forward and improve themselves. In an instant, that information will be rendered nearly meaningless. Providers will have to scramble to apply their old data under the former system to the new data coming in under the new system. Dr. Andrew Boyd, an UIC assistant professor in biomedical and health information reported on how the Swiss transitioned to the new system. He said that it took them five years to get comparable data to what they had under the ICD-9.
Effects on finances and clinical information
UIC released a study on how the new coding system would affect hematology-oncology coding. This is anticipated to be one of the easiest transfers. The team determined that the transition led to “significant information loss.” This hypothetically affected the university’s cancer center Medicaid reimbursements. Without these Medicaid reimbursements, the hospital would lose close to a half a million dollars. Researchers also looked at the records of more than 24,000 patients and checked their codes in both ICD-9 and ICD-10 classifications. Many of the codes used for the diagnoses and costs did not have a direct match between the two systems. The different concepts will not be easily sorted out and reorganized when the switch is made to the ICD-10. That means patients and providers will get very different answers about a diagnosis from one year to the next. This is not a good standard in healthcare.
The entire healthcare industry is less than a year away from being turned upside down. Providers, billing professionals and healthcare institutions will have to learn a new system of coding. This will more than quadruple the number of codes they must learn. The potential for financial loss and medical mismanagement is astounding. Those within the industry need to begin learning the new system today to successfully transfer.
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