By Kathleen Casbarro
For practice owners, ICD-10 changeover not a black-and-white issue
What’s the central issue for the ICD-10 reporting changes in Alex’s mental health practice?
“Oh, no, thanks, I’d rather keep talking about the ICD-10 changeover,” Laura assured him, with at least a hint of sarcasm. “You haven’t talked about anything else for about three days.”
“I sort of noticed that your eyes were beginning to glaze over,” Alex admitted. “But, really, except when I’m actually with clients, that’s all I’m talking about at work, too, and almost all I’m talking about with my friends.”
“They’re mostly doctors, too,” Laura acknowledged. “The shift to the new reporting codes is a big deal for everyone. But I really don’t want to go out this evening. I have to be well rested tomorrow, because we’re taking the whole preschool to the zoo.”
Laura ran a private preschool, and Alex knew that field trips could be logistical nightmares. “Not quite as bad as the ICD-10 switch,” he smiled, “but still a big undertaking.”
“Want to trade?” Laura scoffed.
“You wouldn’t really want to trade with me,” Alex assured her. “You’re going to get to see zebras. I’m going to be continuing to obsess about the change in insurance reporting.”
“So take a kid’s eye view of this change in reporting. What makes this a big issue?” she asked him. “Not the whole list of all the things that you have to do and what could go wrong and all the possible consequences if you fail, but just the most basic answer to the question.”
Alex thought. “Well, I suppose the main thing is that there are a lot more codes under the new system — almost five times as many, nearly 70,000 different codes compared with around 15,000 now. That means it’s not a matter of changing code N to code NX.”
Laura nodded. “That’s big.”
“And I suppose the other thing is that it has a deadline — October 1st — and we have to change completely on that day. It’s urgent because of that. We have no flexibility.”
“So the complexity and the urgency are the issues you have to deal with. Forget all the what ifs and focus on that.”
“I’m not sure you fully grasp the issue,” sighed Alex. “For example, say one of the kids gets bitten by a turtle at the zoo tomorrow. There’s a code just for that.”
“Don’t jinx my trip to the zoo, but thanks for letting me know. Is there one for zebra bites, too?”
“I’d have to look into that. See? I don’t even know. Fortunately, that doesn’t come up much in my mental health practice.”
“So we’re agreed — we’ll stay in and rest up for the challenges of tomorrow. Popcorn and a DVD sound good?”
Alex agreed. An evening off might help him think more productively about the process, he figured. And Laura did have a point: maybe the what-ifs and if-thens were making it harder for him to focus. Now, how to get his mind off all those what-ifs?