The Smart Medical Practice

Expert Interview Series: Has ICD-10 Been Worth all the Headaches?


It’s been 10 months after the rollout of the 10th revision of the International Classification of Disease (ICD-10), a standardized set of codes used to identify diseases and hospital procedures.

After the bustle of preparing for the addition of 140,000 new codes, medical practices have had a chance to catch their breaths and reflect on how useful ICD-10 has been to their practice and their patients.

We recently asked several doctors across a variety of specialties for their thoughts on the efficacy of ICD-10. Here’s what they had to say:

Does ICD-10 ultimately benefit the patient? In the end, do you think ICD-10 will be an improvement for your practice?

I suppose it will help everyone in the long run, since insurance databases are used for research of outcomes. I think it is just something to get used to but otherwise neither good nor bad.

– Dr. Mark Pleatman is a general surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive general and bariatric surgery.

Yes, it does benefit to the patient. We can better and more accurately describe their presentation and all for more symptom coding rather than disease coding. Yes, it has been an improvement. We can be much more specific on the coding and have greater clarity as to the coverage.

– Dr. Cynthia Thaik is the Medical Director for the Holistic Healing Heart Center in Burbank, Calif. The Harvard-trained cardiologist is also a Health & Wellness Speaker and the author of Your Vibrant Heart.

While in an ideal world an ICD-10 like system that clearly defines a disease process in numbers and digits is superb, it is not practical in the world of open access medicine and poor reimbursements. We must find a way to fairly reimburse physicians so that a doctor makes more for saving a life than someone for throwing a football. ICD-10 has been the catalyst to put my practice up for sale. I will retire within five years rather than work to age 75 and ICD-10 and EHR’s are the reason.

– Todd Jaffe M.D., is the president and owner of Brevard Pain Management in Melbourne, Fla. He is board certified in Anesthesiology, Addiction Medicine and subspecialty certified in pain medicine through the American Board of Anesthesiology.

I do not think patient’s care has improved with ICD-10. Why would it? There’s improvement in a sense that it is one headache less to worry about.

– Dr. Nickolai Talanin has been published more than 40 times in leading professional journals on issues covering skincare and skin diseases. He currently works as a dermatologist in Centreville, Va.

No, it doesn’t. How could coding for left arm skin cancer help anyone? There’s been no improvement. It’s just a game.

– Dr. Ernest Bloom is a Board Certified Dermatologist at California Skin Institute Alameda. He treats both adult and pediatric patients, concentrating on providing the best therapy for medical and cosmetic skin issues.

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