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Not ready for ICD-10? These tools might help

It’s difficult to prepare for the many changes established by the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, also known as ICD-10. After all, the U.S. health care industry has been using ICD-9 for more than 30 years and it’s well-ingrained in medical practices large and small. But the code structure has grown archaic and it’s limiting the industry. The new coding structure is a founding block of modern medicine, and it allows data sets to be captured an analyzed through methods that are more functional and more efficient.

The transition to ICD-10 is a major task for health care providers, payers, and third-party vendors. It affects everybody from large national health plans to small medical offices, laboratories, medical testing centers, and hospitals. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states that the cost of organizing and overseeing the ICD-10 transition could range from $84,000 to $2.7 million, depending on the size of a medical practice.

Similar to ICD-9, ICD-10 contains information and codes for diseases, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or diseases. And the code designations have changed since ICD-9, so it’s natural to get confused when trying to learn the new structure. But for any HIPAA-covered entity, knowing the new ICD-10 codes is crucial. Any health care organization that tries to bill medicare, medicaid or a patient and uses ICD-9 codes will have their claims rejected.

The good news is there are several tools and resources you can use to master the new designations well before the October 1 code switch. If you’re still working on figuring everything out, then check out these two options to help with the task

Road to 10 is an sub-organization of the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services that is focused on preparing small medical practices to make the ICD-10 transition as smooth as possible. The website has the background, history and evolution of ICD, and it outlines the tools that medical practice staff will use when incorporating ICD-10. One of the best free services Roadto10 offers are three webinar videos that provide an excellent overview of the new program, and how it will affect the U.S. health care industry.

The website also offers a free timeline to show where medical practices need to be in the transition process in order to hit the road running when the date rolls around. Plus the organization has tests, guidelines and community support options for anybody wanting to see how much progress they’ve made.

ICD-10 Training Lab

NueMD, a medical software company based in Georgia, ran a recent survey that discovered only 11.4 percent of health care workers considered themselves “highly confident” that they would be properly trained for ICD-10 by the October deadline.

In response to the survey’s findings, the company created an ICD-10 training lab, which lets people look up codes and diseases using either ICD-10 or ICD-9 descriptions on the same screen, and it offers training games and other resources to prepare professionals for the switch and test where they’re already at.

The tool is also capable of understanding common medical shorthand and is able to assist with complicated conversion scenarios where there isn’t an obvious one-to-one solution.

The company said in a press release that it intend to continue developing the tool after ICD-10 officially launches in the U.S.

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