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Question: What happens when you ask 2 physicians about how ICD-10 will impact them?

Answer: You get 3 different perceptions

This is a twist on an old joke but understanding what the typical physician knows about ICD-10 and what they misunderstand about ICD-10 is key to identifying your practice's education needs, including who needs training, what type (and level) of training is required, and how each person should be trained.

Since physicians are responsible for the final diagnosis and are responsible for documentation, let’s look at the top 3 misconceptions (and share what you are hearing in the comments below):

Misconception #1: The only staff members affected will be coders and billers

True, physicians are not expected to learn to code. However, ICD-10 will require physicians to document at a level of specificity not previously required in ICD-9, for example including laterality, episodes of care, stages of healing, weeks in pregnancy, etc.   Keep in mind, the best trained coders can only code based on the documentation available to them so if documentation is missing, coders are required to return records to the physician for clarification and addendums.  And you know how a physician will respond if they receive a lot of queries, so let’s prevent this from happening.

Misconception #2: My EMR/PM vendor will automatically be compliant so I do not have to be involved

Yes, most major EMR’s and Practice Management systems are introducing ICD-10 compliant systems but physicians need to begin working now to assess where they use diagnosis codes, how they use them, and who uses them so they are prepared to make necessary process and system changes and provide training to those who will need it. For example, ancillary order forms on October 1, 2014 must include the correct ICD-10 diagnosis code or a patient will not be able to have diagnostic studies done at hospitals and clinics.

Misconception #3: Physician education can wait until summer 2014

No.  The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) recommends physicians start training about 3-6 months ahead of the October 1st deadline.  By starting early, there will be time to start identifying areas that need focus and prevent unnecessary surprises.


Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Ready to hear how to make physician education engaging and relevant?  Join me at the upcoming webinar on February 13th, click here to register.

Rachel Dicker View all

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