The Pros and Cons of the ICD-10 Transition: Does One Outweigh the Other?

The purpose of ICD-10 is to provide a way for clinicians and hospitals to share information in a clear and meaningful way. By providing an avenue for clear communication, specific diagnosis codes and billing strategies, healthcare costs can be reduced and patient care should become more streamlined. However, the transition to ICD-10 is not going to be without difficulty.

The Cons of ICD-10 Transition

The cons of the transition to ICD-10 are mainly factors related to increased administrative time, learning new documentation practices and convincing and training providers that are set in their ways. The administrative team must set up time for all providers to be trained in the new coding policies. Most healthcare professionals should take it upon themselves to stay up to date on current issues in medicine (including ICD-10), but practices should not rely on self-learning. There must be time set aside to train clinicians, billing support and administrative staff in the new reporting system.

For clinicians that have been practising many years, there may be resistance to learning yet another new system. Unfortunately, this is not something that can be avoided. If clinicians want to get paid, they must report appropriately. If the practice does not get reimbursed, then there is no money to pay the clinician.

The Pros of ICD-10 Transition

The pros of transitioning to ICD-10 are factors that will increase the specificity of the documentation plus improve billing and outcome recording strategies. The transition period will allow time to evaluate administrative systems, including billing, outcome recording and patient follow up.

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The transition to ICD-10 will require training of all clinical staff as well as training of billing specialists and operations management. During the training period for billing and coding initial and subsequent coding, the practice management will have an opportunity to evaluate current practice strategies and systems. This will likely uncover areas for improvement and more efficient processes. The transition will eventually yield improved financial performance and improved systems for billing and reimbursement. Once providers are familiar with the new coding system, physicians will be able to better capture patient visit information and create better coordination with other facets of healthcare. Better data will lead the way for enhanced quality of patient care.

In addition, the United States based medical systems will now be in compliance with the most up-to-date World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases, with the rest of the world, as most industrialized countries moved to ICD-10 several years ago.

Is the ICD-10 Transition Worth it?

Although the transition to ICD-10 will require work and effort, the benefits will outweigh the effort. The increased effort will be temporary and the benefits will be long-lasting, for improved patient care and increased practice revenue. EHR will improve the transition process, by providing a resource for proper coding and tracking. A good EHR system will have a customer service resource for clinicians to answer questions related to ICD-10. In addition, the EHR system will automatically update diagnosis coding to auto-populate up to date codes.

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Amy Vant

About the author…

Amy Vant is a doctor of physical therapy and clinical director for an outpatient physical therapy clinic in the United States. She has experience utilizing and implementing many forms of medical documentation through various healthcare practice venues. Amy enjoys writing about healthcare administration strategies, including electronic health record systems.

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Amy Vant