Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pecked By A Chicken? Sickened By In-Laws? Bit by a Squirrel? Had a Run-In with a Lamp Post? Been Run-Over by a Turtle? There’s A Code For That

On October 1, CMS, acting under directions from ObamaCare officials, has mandated that physicians, hospitals, and everybody else in the medical universe must convert from 13,000 ICD-9 to 69,000 ICD-10 codes. From here on, every medical condition must be classified.

Coding systems everywhere, driven by programmers and coding systems, have sprung up to help with the transition. Doctors say the conversion will be a monumental task. It will force them to hire coders and coding firms, install software translators on their electronic health record systems, to ferret out just the right codes (845 for angioplasty, 9 for acne, and hundreds more for diabetes), in order to be paid. Add to these staggering sets of new numbers the fact that physicians, patients, and government policy makers speak in different code languages, and you have a real communication problem on your hands, pardon, on your fingers on the keyboard.

Fortunately, reporters at Kaiser Health News, using their own anti-bureaucratic language have a sense of humor and perspective about this coding conversion.

“If you're struck by an orca, sucked into a jet engine, or having relationship problems with your in-laws, fear not: Your doctor now has a medical diagnosis code for that.

Today U.S. doctors, hospitals and health insurers must start using the ICD-10, a vast new set of alphanumeric codes for describing diseases and injuries in unprecedented detail. The transition, mandated by the federal government, has been called American health care’s Y2K moment, because the codes haven’t been updated in 36 years. Doctors and hospitals are on high alert since the arcane letters and digits are key to how health care providers get paid. If they don’t use the right codes, down to the decimal, they may not be paid sufficiently – or at all. (Feder Ostrov, 10/1)/”

Just remember, if you’re feeling lost for information, and can’t put what you feel in words, there’s a code for everything, and everything has a code.

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