Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) declared that Oct. 1, 2014 would be the firm implementation date for ICD-10, the newest iteration of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) coding system used on medical claim forms.

The question then became how to handle the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10, especially as it relates to updating each set of codes during the transition. CMS officials proposed a “limited freeze,” under which the last regular, annual updates to both ICD-9 and ICD-10 would be made on October 1, 2011. A year later, 2012, limited changes would be made to both sets of codes to account for new technologies and diseases.

The next year, on October 1, 2013, limited changes would again be made — but only to the ICD-10 codes, as ICD-9 would be phased out. One year later, on October 1, 2014, the regular annual update to ICD-10 would begin. Congress (coincident to another bill) delayed full implementation to October 1, 2015.

In September, the ICD-9-CM Coordination & Maintenance Committee announced that the “limited freeze” proposal had been accepted, paving the way for the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 to begin in earnest.

Although ICD-10 codes differ from ICD-9 in several ways — such as the number of characters used in each code and the use of an “x” placeholder — the biggest difference between the two coding sets is the number of codes involved. Because they are more complex and detailed, ICD-10 includes 69,099 diagnosis codes compared with only 14,315 ICD-9 codes.

So far, providers’ progress on switching over to the new codes has been varied. Mostly, people involved are intimidated by the tremendous challenge of the conversion. A major consideration is that MORE CODERS WILL BE NEEDED since the coding process will be magnified significantly, requiring far more codes and detail than were in the ICD-9 process.

Hand-in-hand with preparing for ICD-10 is getting ready for the new 5010 protocol for submitting electronic claims to Medicare and other payers. The 5010 protocol, which goes into full effect on Jan. 1, 2012, replaces the current protocol, known as 4010. The 5010 protocol is now being fully tested and the monitoring and progress to date is available at the CMS websight as noted below.

Providers and coders (and wannabees) who have questions about either ICD-10 or the 5010 protocol can find resources at the CMS website CMS.GOV/ICD10/ is excited to announce that is has prepared a full training process for experienced coders as well as those who are interested in learning to code. The course has the CMS regulations, instructions and general knowledge about ICD10 as well as patient records to learn to code with the complete rational for the correct coding answers.

Med-certification sets the training standards of how to learn to do:

  • Medical Billing and Coding
  • Medical Transcription Certification
  • Medical Office Specialist and Administration
  • Legal Training Programs, including transcription, paralegal and legal assistant

Med-certification also has a certification testing process for practice and final testing for medical coding certification in various medical and legal career fields.

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