6 steps to help you prepare for the more detailed ICD-10 code set


One practical way to prepare your practice for the Oct. 1, 2014, transition to more detailed ICD-10 codes is to analyze how you currently use ICD-9 codes. Although you've probably memorized the ICD-9 codes you work with most frequently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recommends that you conduct a more structured review.

CMS suggests the following six actions to help you prepare for ICD-10:

  1. Identify the diagnoses you most frequently code.
  2. Use an ICD-10 code book or software tool to look up those diagnoses and review the potential new codes for the best match.
  3. Understand how your clinicians communicate with your coding/billing colleagues. What words do they use to describe their routine protocols to coders/billers?
  4. Identify how your practice will enter key words, medical notes and content in medical records so the protocols are clearly communicated.
  5. Discuss changes that may occur in clinical documentation to support ICD-10 code selection.
  6. As you begin testing ICD-10 in the coming year, share your ICD-10 code interpretation and selections with your colleagues to minimize the learning curve and avoid miscommunications.

"You may notice multiple ICD-10 codes for a given ICD-9 code. The ICD-10 code structure accommodates more information than the ICD-9 structure, for added detail," CMS noted in an electronic update issued Dec. 6. "The result is a more complete picture of complex medical conditions that your clinical documentation will need to capture."

CMS advises that, in order to take advantage of the power of ICD-10, your practice will need to:

  • Look at how ICD-10 codes differ from ICD-9 codes for your most common diagnoses.
  • Identify what additional documentation or descriptive language clinicians might need to include to ensure selection of the correct ICD-10 code.

You can access other recent ICD-10 email updates from CMS here.

Click here to access additional information and resources on CMS' ICD-10 website.