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Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013

This Week's News

Get ready for ICD-10; code set compliance deadline one year away

Get ready for ICD-10; code set compliance deadline one year away

While the AMA continues its efforts to stop ICD-10 in its tracks, physicians should be prepared for implementation of the massive new code set. The compliance deadline now is less than one year away: Oct. 1, 2014.

The AMA has been working for years to prevent the roll-out of ICD-10, which will require physicians and their office staff to contend with about 68,000 outpatient diagnostic codes in place of the 13,000 codes used under the ICD-9 code set. But if physicians wait for a possible stay on implementation later this year, it may be too late to prepare their practices for the rigorous transition.

Experts say physicians who have not begun preparations for ICD-10 should begin now. Among the many changes that may be required are such comprehensive measures as:

  • Upgrading billing, claims processing and electronic health record software
  • Revising forms and coding support tools
  • Training staff
  • Updating payer contracts and fee schedules
  • Identifying coverage changes
  • Testing updated systems
  • Stockpiling cash reserves to preserve cash flow

Beginning Oct. 1, 2014, services that are not coded in ICD-10 will be rejected and go unpaid.

Physicians can find aids for making the transition on the AMA's ICD-10 Web page. Free resources include answers to frequently asked questions, a 12-step action plan, a checklist and a project plan template. The AMA Store also offers a wide variety of resources and training for physicians and practice staff. One-day ICD-10-CM workshops will take place in five national locations throughout November and December. Physicians and their staff can take advantage of special group rates by calling (800) 882-3000.

The AMA continues to urge Congress to adopt legislation that would stop implementation of the code set; two such bills were introduced earlier this year. Physicians can urge their members of Congress to co-sponsor this important legislation, known as the Cutting Costly Codes Act of 2013, by sending an email through the AMA's Physicians Grassroots Network.

The AMA also is advocating on physicians' behalf with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for enforcing ICD-10, emphasizing the immense burden the new code set will place on physicians. Additional information about these advocacy efforts also is available on the AMA's ICD-10 Web page.