Data Collection a Key Benefit of ICD-10

While the transition to ICD-10 codes presents challenges to healthcare providers, it also offers opportunities for improving care. For example, the greater specificity of ICD-10 codes compared to ICD-9 codes allows providers to analyze data in greater depth. Mike Rosenfeld, solution analyst at T-System, says the data that will be produced by ICD-10 will be one of the biggest benefits of ICD-10. "Where the healthcare market as a whole is headed is about data and interoperability. Having better collection of data is really key," he says. He explains how hospitals' preparation for ICD-10 can help them take advantage of the increased data.

The more granular ICD-10 codes will force physicians to change the way they document. "Coders and providers are very familiar and comfortable with [ICD-9]," Mr. Rosenfeld says. "You're asking each of those individuals to take a step outside their comfort zone, and this is really where you're going to see decreased productivity and delays in the revenue cycle." To mitigate decreased productivity and delays, Mr. Rosenfeld suggests preparing for ICD-10 now to familiarize physicians and coders to the new codes, which will enable providers and analysts to access the new data more quickly.

The first step in changing clinicians' documentation is to review their current practices to identify the most problematic areas for ICD-10 codes. For instance, Mr. Rosenfeld says a code distribution with several unspecified codes is a red flag. "Use the next two years to get ahead of those types of issues and make sure all the players in the revenue cycle are aware of the upcoming changes," he says.

While the transition may cause some short-term delays as physicians and nurses acclimate to the new code set, the long-term effects have the potential to improve the delivery of care and the understanding of a patient population. "In the long run, the more thorough documentation will ultimately improve efficiency," Mr. Rosenfeld says.

In addition to being more detailed, ICD-10 codes differ from ICD-9 codes in their consistency: ICD-10 codes are standardized, whereas ICD-9 codes are more variable. ICD-10's greater consistency will allow people to make more accurate comparisons using the data, Mr. Rosenfeld says. "Having better data can open up a lot of opportunities to improve performance on a number of fronts such as clinical outcomes, evidence-based medicine, [etc.]."

Learn more about T-System.


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