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HCCS Assesses Early ICD-10 Returns
By James Cronin

With only a few exceptions, the first few weeks of October 2015 have been pretty uneventful across the 100+ hospitals and health systems that outsource their coding to us. As will be the case with any other organization that has adequately prepared their coders, dual coding was a greater drain on resources than coding only ICD-10. For us, the most exciting ICD-10 issue of week one concerns encoders not being calibrated correctly, causing either ICD-10 or ICD-9 codes to not be accepted. The most common fix for this is a workaround that has a productivity hit similar to that of dual coding. Other than the noncritical IT issues, it's been eerily quiet. For instance, we were asked to set up two ICD-10 hotlines that cover about 80 hospitals, and we have received less than 10 calls.

Unsurprisingly, we are seeing query rates begin to climb, and therefore expect physician documentation to be a bottleneck in the revenue cycle of some hospitals for a few weeks, but, as long as hospitals have a solid query process in place, they shouldn't lose sleep over it.

The build-up to ICD-10 was grueling, but the storm seems to have passed. The past six months were the real storm with the market for coders becoming a real battleground, coder salaries skyrocketing, and retention becoming an issue to lose sleep over. So far, I like October a lot better than September.

— James Cronin is chief operating officer of Healthcare Coding & Consulting Services.