With the ICD-10 changeover just about a year away, some practices are preparing to start dual coding their encounters. In other words, they’ll code each encounter in ICD-9 and ICD-10. (This contrasts with the similarly named double coding, in which forms are coded in ICD-9 at the time of the encounter and later translated into ICD-10).
Obviously, there are labor and IT costs involved with dual coding. Your software must be set up to support ICD-10 codes, and coding times will be longer. Still, many experts feel the benefits outweigh the costs:
- Risk mitigation. By starting early, you run a lower risk of serious issues cropping up during the transition.
- Training evaluation. Through observation, you’ll gain a sense of how effective your training has been thus far and where to focus your efforts.
- Analysis. You’ll have a baseline from which to gauge your efforts and
data that shows where more preparation is needed. Comprehensive data should help you demonstrate the financial consequences of incomplete documentation to physicians reluctant to change.
- Familiarity. Staff and clinicians will learn the new codes and documentation procedures in a low-pressure environment and be comfortable with them before next year’s transition. This should lead to higher productivity (and lower stress levels) during the changeover.
- Testing. A dual-coding program will allow you to conduct end-to-end claims validation, identify payment issues and test the accuracy of your reimbursement projections.
These benefits make a strong case for dual coding, but the most powerful impetus is simple: revenue neutrality. Healthcare organizations that avoid a dip in revenue due to the ICD-10 transition by preparing and training in advance will be well positioned for fourth-quarter 2014 and beyond.
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