CMS releases guide for medical professionals on the ICD-10 transition

On September 16, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new guide aimed at addressing the concerns of medical professionals about one of the upcoming transitions to more advanced software. The guide – called the "Medicare Fee-For-Service Claims Processing Guidance for Implementing International Classification of Diseases" – details how industry professionals can best handle the transition to ICD-10 coding systems.

Since ICD-9 has been in use for roughly 30 years, medical professionals have been relying on only one program for all of their electronic health transactions. As a result, the switch could be a process that ends up stymieing productivity and wasting resources if not handled effectively.

One of the biggest differences between the two programs, according to the release, is the fact that the diagnosis codes have different rules regarding specificity. Doctors now need to submit the most specific code for each diagnosis based on the current information about a patient.

The transition is one that may be more pressing than switches to electronic medical records and electronic medical billing software, since the October 13, 2013 deadline is fast approaching. The guide was careful to reiterate that any claim sent in after that date would not be accepted by CMS.

The guide also listed several potential issues doctors could face after this deadline. This includes instructions on how to proceed in the event of professional, institutional or supplier claims. Interested doctors can now read the entire seven-page guide on the government agency's website.

Once they understand the difficulties that they may face, doctors can begin to adopt training policies based on these scenarios. By increasing the preparedness of their staff, doctors will be able to continue to provide the best care for patients during what could be a difficult transition time.