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Look to Professional Organizations for ICD-10 Resources

The Doctor's Office, October 29, 2009

For physician practice coders, the transition to ICD-10 in 2013 might not be as bad as anticipated. Why? The most obvious reason is that physician practice coders don't have to worry about procedure codes, as physician practices will continue to report CPT codes for procedures. These coders only need to check for annual CPT updates, which is what they currently do. However, one major change will be the superbills update that will include ICD-10 codes that represent the most commonly used diagnoses for the practice's patient populations.

Because of CMS, providers have access to free resources to help them prepare for the transition to ICD-10. CMS and the CDC have created a set of tables that crosswalk the two versions of disease classifications. The tables, called general equivalence mappings (GEM), are text files that include information coders need to get acquainted with how common diagnosis codes will translate to ICD-10. Access the GEM and additional information about how to use them on CMS' Web site.

Although many crosswalks exist, some ICD-10 codes do not have a predecessor in ICD-9. Although this is the exception rather than the rule, CMS reminds coders that this means the GEM tables won't serve as an all-encompassing resource. Coders must continue to rely on coding books and adhere to coding rules.

To receive guidance on commonly used codes in ICD-9 versus ICD-10 and more, access HCPro's ICD-10 Watch blog at http://blogs.hcpro.com/icd-10.

The American Health Information Management Association offers many free and valuable tools for physician practices on its Web site, www.ahima.org.

The American Academy of Professional Coders Web site, www.aapc.com, offers additional resources, including an example of a 'before and after' superbill created by the American Academy of Family Practitioners.

The transition to ICD-10 is finally going to happen. Fortunately, coders have three years to prepare for the conversion and resources are readily available. Coders should seize the opportunity to take a sneak peek at what the changes will look like for their practice.


This article was adapted from one that originally appeared in the November 2009 issue of The Doctor's Office, a HealthLeaders Media publication.

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