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Finding Support For ICD-10 Changes And Challenges


With the October 1st ICD-10 implementation deadline behind us, the time to prepare is past, but getting help optimizing the use of this new code is ever present. Many leaders of homecare agencies have discovered, during the first weeks of ICD-10, that they did not prepare as well as they should have. Problems with selecting the correct codes and challenges with new documentation processes may be festering and threatening to bottleneck agency cash-flow.

While time and experience will allow your staff to gain greater familiarity with ICD-10, experience alone is an “expensive teacher.” Far better to make continual, conscious efforts to improve your agency’s ICD coding abilities than to suffer and flounder while waiting for things to improve “naturally.” Furthermore, there will be regular updates and changes to ICD-10 processes in the months ahead, and by 2018, the switch to ICD-11 will begin.

Thus, anyone doing home health and hospice coding will need to have access to resources that will keep them “in the know” as ICD coding continues to transform and develop. As the largest payer for homecare, CMS remains the main source of coding help and clarification. Some of the valuable resources they provide include:

1. CMS Email Updates: Joining the CMS mailing list gives you regular updates on all things related to medical coding. To join, all that is required is submission of your current email address. There is no easier way to learn of modifications and updates than to take note as they appear in your in-box, distribute to those who code and adjust processes as needed.

2. Follow CMS on Twitter: If you have a Twitter account, it will be little effort to add CMS to your follow-list. Seeing what industry experts are tweeting about will help keep you on top of the current ICD conversation and give you a feel for which direction the ICD changes are going.

3. CMS Resource Guide & Contact List: The Medicare and Medicaid system can be quite complex to navigate, and constantly change. This quick access to basic resources and list of where to go when you need more in-depth help with questions, is invaluable.

4. Claims Processing and Billing Guidance FAQs: Your ICD billing problems and claims questions may well be the same as those submitted by others. Using this resource site to scan FAQ lists and other listed CMS billing issues guides, will be a major help in the months ahead.

5. Obtain an ICD-10 Coding Book: While there is much you can download for free, having a hard copy of the ICD-10 code with explanations is the most helpful for obtaining a quick, in-depth, reference. This official version titled 2016 ICD-10-CM Expert for Home Health and Hospice is available in print or as an e-book. Also consider printing CMS quick-reference sheets and obtaining coding books and other supporting resources from coding associations.

6. Talk to the CMS Ombudsman: Dr.William Rogers is the official CMS ombudsman and his job is to assist those struggling with ICD-10 after all other avenues have been exhausted. The ICD-10 Coordination Center supports the ombudsman and is the hub for CMS ICD communications. The center and Dr. Rogers will do their best to communicate with you in a timely fashion.

All of the above resources work in concert with well trained staff coders. If your agency’s coding abilities are not up to par, consider outsourcing your ICD-10 coding tasks, on a temporary or a permanent basis.

Kenyon HomeCare Consulting specializes in coding for home health/hospice organizations and is staffed by coders who have years of homecare experience. Kenyon HomeCare’s ICD Coding Plus program ensures coding accuracy, speedy submissions, and maximized reimbursements. Even the smallest coding changes are implemented immediately. The extra services such as management reports, OASIS, plan of care and visit frequency reviews and documentation assistance illuminate the presence of the “plus” in Coding Plus.

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