Bad coding habits with ICD-9 may impact usefulness of ICD-10

Getting out ahead of bad coding habits with ICD-9 can make ICD-10 more effective come next year.

Getting out ahead of bad coding habits with ICD-9 can make ICD-10 more effective come next year.

Although providers still have over a year to go before the October 1, 2015, deadline for implementing ICD-10, clinics and hospitals around the country are slowly but surely ramping up efforts to ensure their chiropractic documentation software needs are in order ahead of time. With tens of thousands of new diagnostic codes included, ICD-10 will take a little more than a weekend for the average physician or staff member to get a handle on. But as one new report indicates, what could potentially — and significantly — set back how well and how fast a practice is able to adopt ICD-10 is how it currently uses ICD-9.

For over 30 years, ICD-9 has been the coding standard for providers in the U.S. Not only is there a certain level of familiarity with that code set, but many clinics and practices have undoubtedly adopted their own habits for working with the system, which may or may not be the "proper" way to process codes and file claims. Consequently, when the time comes to install ICD-10 in a given clinic, these bad coding habits are likely to carry over too, holding you back from getting the most out of ICD-10.

"For physicians, ICD-10 testing is an opportunity to identify flaws in either their documentation or coding processes before those flaws created delayed payments or underpayment," Andy Arends of Dell Services tells Healthcare IT News. But as Carl Natale of ICD10watch, another industry news source, points out, "There's a pretty good chance that documentation flaws already are creating delayed payments or underpayments. Their documentation habits could be costing medical practices time and money long before ICD-10 coding becomes a reality."

Making use of the best chiropractic EHR software available can help a clinic make the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 with minimal impact to workflow and productivity. 

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