Key ICD-10 Effects on Radiologists

What are the main benefits of going from ICD-9 to ICD-10?

ICD-10 is divided into two components as per their usage areas: hospitals and physicians.

The hospital component is going to provide lot of additional data pertaining to the various medical procedures that are performed. ICD-9 is unable to capture Volume 3 codes, so they need to record and document what procedures are being carried out for the inpatient side.

On the physician side, many of the ICD-9 codes are outdated and do not perfectly capture the way clinicians currently classify some conditions. Another drawback of ICD-9 is that it doesn’t accurately describe a patient’s condition in some cases. ICD-9 codes have been in practice since the 1980’s and they haven’t changed much when compared to the changes in medical procedures. ICD-9 simply doesn’t contain the level of detail needed for use in today’s healthcare system.

ICD-10 is exceptionally detailed. The 16,000 codes in ICD-9 are going to be expanded to over 68,000 codes in ICD-10. As far as radiology is concerned, codes such as fractures will be a lot more detailed, for example, which extremity it is, is the fracture displaced, non-displaced etc.

What’s the primary effect of implementation of ICD-10 on radiologists?

From the radiologist’s perspective, it will generally be around the radiology reports but at the same time it’s also important to keep in mind the quality of the clinical data and documentation coming from the referring physician. The implementation of ICD-10 will have an effect on both areas, and thus, will bring about opportunities for better reforms. On the physicians side, changes will take place from the coding perspectives. Radiologist coders need to be up to date on ICD-10 and be ready for its implementation. Holistically, the biggest impact will most probably be on the documentation side.

What kind of impact will ICD-10 have on the radiologist’s workflow and time management?

The greatest impact will be clinical documentation improvement (CDI). Radiologists need to identify the key issues ahead of time so that it’s less stressful when the ICD-10 implementation phase actually gets underway. While there may not be issues regarding workflow delays or updates, radiologists need to continue making subtle positive changes that will help them be prepared at the time of the ICD-10 implementation.

What should radiology practices do to prepare for ICD-10?

Outsourcing to billing companies seems to be the most preferred method among radiologists. Billing companies are generally ahead than radiologist practice’s in-house staff with respect to ICD-10 preparedness. Many of the billing companies have been preparing for this for quite some time. Local staff may not have devoted enough time to delve into the details closely. If not done already so, the staff need to run mock-tests to ensure their preparedness.

Where are radiology practices currently in the journey to ICD-10?

Radiologists are much more prepared than other specialties in terms of ICD-10 preparedness as radiology systems like PACS & RIS have enough fields to collect most of the required data. As long as the staff has been trained to enter the necessary data, significant part of implementation is taken care. For radiologists, it’ll mostly be about conducting training sessions for ICD-10 and making a smooth transition through change management. Radiologists also need to ensure that they are getting adequate clinical information from hospitals and the ERs.

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