ICD-10 more important than ever

December 4th, 2014

The matter of ICD-10 remains one of great concern for many practicing dentistry clinics. According to Dentistry IQ, it's only a matter of time before people begin making the transition to this new coding system. The government will mandate a switch to the new tools by Oct. 2015, if the current schedule holds. Many of the difficulties in transition lie with the new codes being different enough from the old ones as to necessitate study in order to avoid confusion.

ICD-10 is used to create medical documents that are sent through electronic health record systems. These records go out to hospitals, insurance companies and the government, and they are also responsible for the payments that are shipped out to patients. The current system used by the U.S. is ICD-9, but the international community has already transitioned to ICD-10. As such, medical students like those who might be using dental enterprise software in a clinic on site at a university are struggling to learn both ICD-9 as well as ICD-10. The sooner they pick up on ICD-10, the better. However, graduating students will be expected to have mastered the program.

The same goes for oral hygienists. Everyone who works in the medical community, whether dental or not, will need to have a firm basis in ICD-10. The latest dental enterprise software is compatible with the old system as well as the new, letting dental students train on equipment that will prepare them for what actual practice will be like. Dentists that work with other medical professionals will want to get on top of ICD-10.

Congressional delays only encourage people to begin the transition soon
Congress will meet soon to discuss the 2015 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill, according to Government Health IT.  The question with the bill is largely whether Congress will add an amendment that pushes back the ICD-10 compliance requirements further.

Even if Congress does decide to do this, it is only making it more important that dental students learn how to use the proper hardware from the university clinic where they are training. If dentists don't understand ICD-10, they will be at a major disadvantage because the current delays are actually making hospitals use two codes at the same time: ICD-9 for U.S. insurance and hospitals and ICD-10 for international ones. People who can only use ICD-9 are severely hampered, and this will get worse once the final switch happens.

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