Clock Is Ticking on ICD-10 Grace Period

Emily Brill
Published: Monday, Aug 08, 2016
Debra Patt, MD

Debra Patt, MD

ICD-10 was last year, right? Isn’t it old hat now? Think again. Oncology practices are facing a new deadline. When October 1 arrives, they will have to start coding with greater specificity and also get used to many new codes that CMS is going to activate. The one-year grace period that followed last year’s inauguration of ICD-10 is about to end.

Roughly 1,900 new diagnostic codes and 3,650 new hospital inpatient codes will become valid come October. That’s on top of the tens of thousands of new codes introduced last year. To prepare for the higher level of accountability and the increased potential for CMS audits resulting from improper code use, practices have been analyzing their internal systems for signs of inappropriate code use that could lead to trouble when the grace period ends.

ICD-10: The First Deadline

The changeover last year was the biggest upgrade to medical coding in years. Leading up to the big day, doctors and administrators weren’t sure how it would unfold. They had sat through hours of training sessions about how to adapt to ICD-10, which would increase the number of diagnostic codes from 13,000 to 68,000. They had witnessed changes to their practices’ business offices and updates to EHR software. They had been told of the risks of implementing the ICD-10 update improperly and, after the change, adapting to the new classification system ineffectively. The atmosphere was thick with anticipation, questions, fear.
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