The countdown to implementation of ICD-10 is on, and members of the local medical community say they are prepared to begin using it in their workplaces.
"I think it's doable, I think I'm ready," said Lisa Ballard, a certified professional coder for the Ophthalmology Group in Paducah, of the new and far more extensive diagnostic coding system.
The 10th edition of the International Classification of Diseases, ICD-10 will replace ICD-9. It includes an array of new and different codes to report diagnoses, signs and symptoms documented in a patient's chart or medical record. All physicians and hospitals across the country are required to transition to ICD-10 by Oct. 1, and medical staffers are learning as much as they can before it goes into effect.
ICD-9 uses about 14,000 codes, and ICD-10 will utilize roughly 68,000.
On Tuesday, Lindy Lady, medical business advocacy manager for the Kentucky Medical Association, helped give a crash course on ICD-10 at the Commerce Center. Ballard and about 20 other local medical staffers tasked with handling coding details and insurance claims attended the free session, hosted by Paducah Bank, Lourdes hospital and Baptist Health Paducah.
Ballard, who found the session helpful, does not believe ICD-10 is as scary as she has heard it could be and believes she is prepared to use it.
Medical providers have been preparing for ICD-10 for years, and Lady said Tuesday that nothing is going to prevent it from going into effect next month.
"There has been legislation but it's not going anywhere," she said.
With that, Lady acknowledged how much the transition to the new system has been in the limelight. But she assured the audience that implementation won't be "that bad."
"It's a big change to health systems," she said. "Physicians have been testing it for years. They are a little nervous and afraid that rejections and denials could occur."
She added that despite the reservations, most physicians and staff members are aware that the transition is needed to get on par with other countries that implemented it many years ago.
"Other countries are way past us," she said.
Lady told the group that millions of dollars and countless hours have been spent preparing medical staffers across the country for ICD-10. The codes in the system are used to gather, store and analyze data for public health, statistics and reimbursement. All physicians and hospitals across the country are required to use the system.
Marissa Majors, a coder for two practices in Paducah, has attended several training sessions on ICD-10 since she began working on the transition more than a year ago. While she did not attend Tuesday's workshop, Majors said she just returned from a training session in Chicago and is in the midst of reviewing the details ICD-10 so she can become more proficient in its use.
"Until I went to the training I was nervous," she said. "But after looking at it and at ICD-9, I saw there were a lot of codes that were not in there. If the doctor has a specific thing he wants you to code, there is a code for it in ICD-10."
As a coder, Majors said she believes the transition will be beneficial, but she said some providers have reservations because of the additional information they will need to provide.