Dual coding: Will medical practices be required to keep both code sets?


Dual coding is being discussed as an important tool for preparing a healthcare provider for the ICD-10 transition.

Most dual coding plans require medical coders to code a medical record in ICD-9 codes and ICD-10 codes. This has two advantages:

  1. The ICD-10 code data will give healthcare providers an idea how revenue will be affected after Oct. 1, 2014.
  2. The process of coding will give medical coders practice with ICD-10 coding.

Just how much value will a healthcare provider realize with dual coding? Dual coding is a resource-intensive practice. Karen Karban writes it depends. Hospitals have to most to gain with dual coding. They have the most to gain by financial modeling. Medical practices most likely won't have as much money at stake.

Yeah I can see that.

[See also: Dual Coding: A burden or advantage for healthcare providers?]

But I have to wonder if practice isn't a compelling enough reason for medical practices of all sizes to try dual coding.

Timing training so medical coders don't forget how to assign ICD-10 codes by Oct. 1, 2014, will be tricky. So dual coding becomes a tool for practicing ICD-10 coding. It also will reveal clinical documentation weaknesses. It won't be free.

But dual coding will be required sooner or later. Because of non-covered entities, dates of service and the possibility that not all covered entities will be ready to process ICD-10 codes, it's almost a sure bet medical records will need to be coded twice or medical coders will have to toggle between the two code sets.