Are You Ready for ICD-10? Part I

Benchmark Systems’ Practice Management System is.

Hopefully, by now your office has started thinking about the implementation of the International Classification of Disease codes, revision 10(ICD-10).  As you most likely know the decision was made to move the deadline from October 1st, 2014 to October 1st, 2015.  All indications are that it is really going to happen this time. Has your office started thinking about ICD-10 implementation?
This classification of diseases and related health issues is supported and promoted by the World Health Organization(WHO).   Many countries around the world have already started using this latest classification.  In fact, countries like Australia and Sweden have been using this latest revision since the late 1990’s. Now, it is past time for the United States to jump on board.  CMS has determined that all practices and insurances companies start communicating using the ICD-10 format starting on October 1st of 2015.  But, it is never too early to start getting your practice prepared for the change.  Medical software companies, insurance providers and electronic clearinghouses are already in the process of testing and preparing their software and connections for this change.

In fact Benchmark Systems Practice Management software has just released the latest version of their software that fully supports upgrading your practice to, and the ongoing usage of the ICD-10 code set.


What does this mean for your Practice?

1. Become familiar with the new ICD-10 code set.

The code set allows more than 14,400 different codes and permits the tracking of many new diagnoses. The codes can be expanded to over 16,000 codes by using optional sub-classifications.  The basic structure of the ICD-10 code is the following: Characters 1-3 (the category of disease); 4 (etiology of disease); 5 (body part affected), 6 (severity of illness) and 7 (placeholder for extension of the code to increase specificity).  In general  what this means for your practice is that a specific code that you might have used in the ICD-9 code set will usually translate to multiple codes representing the same disease, but allow for more specific and detailed identification.  It is highly recommended that your practice staff become familiar with the new code set.

There are several resources you can access to help you with this process. Access the WHO web site for several online training resources and additional information about ICD-10.  CMS also has online resources to assist you with your transition to ICD-10.  There are also free online ICD books that will help you with the transition to ICD10. will allow you to search for and see information about an ICD-9 code. It also provides a link to the corresponding ICD-10 code(s) on the site

2. Evaluate the readiness of your current practice management and billing software to handle the change to ICD-10.

Check out your medical software company’s web site and contact their support department to determine what they have done and are doing to ensure their medical software is ready to help you transition to and support ICD-10.  If you have concerns about their readiness, start a search as soon as possible for software the will be able to support this new code set.

3. Determine a cut-over date for when you will start using ICD-10.

Once this date is determined, start using ICD-10 and don’t look back.  Depending on the process your software system allows, it would be best if you could start using the ICD-10 codes prior to the 10/1/2015 deadline.  This will help ensure there is no interruption of cash flow once we reach the deadline.   Now, it is true that many insurance companies will not accept the new codes until the deadline is reached.  But, if your software system is developed with the practices best interest in mind, it will have ways for you to start using ICD-10 and make the appropriate accommodation  to send the correct code ICD-9 or ICD-10.

4. Continue to monitor the readiness of all parties participating in your financial workflow.

You should continue to monitor your software system’s web site, insurance company web site, clearinghouse web site and any announcements from CMS that pertain to ICD-10.  As you may be aware the deadline for usage of ICD-10 has already been extended once.  It is possible for this to happen again.  So, continue to monitor the situation to keep yourself informed.

A year from now, I hope we will all look back at this transition and think “what was the big deal?”  Then, we can all move forward with using the latest code set that allows for much more clarity in identification of diseases, not to mention catching up with the rest of the world.  But, being prepared and informed as a practice will get us all closer to making this hope a reality.


Is your practice looking for new practice management and billing software that is complaint with ICD-10? Check out Benchmark Medical‘s Five Star Rated Practice Management Software and Revenue Cycle Management Solutions.

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