The time of the new ICD-10 codes is coming. Information on federal web sites indicates the ICD-10 category will soon be in use and the AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association) claims that legislative processes are under way to set up the required use of ICD-10 codes by 2010. The new ICD-10s as adopted by the World Health Organization provide for documenting many different types of diseases and conditions and will help to supplement the outdated ICD-9 system now in use at US hospitals and medical offices.

1- Start early. The AHIMA site recommends preparing for ICD-10s years in advance. Health care professionals are scrambling to identify, analyze and be aware of ICD-10 codes now so that they can include them in billing systems by 2010.

2- Prepare for clerical changes. According to AHIMA, the ICD-10 set will include changing alphanumeric codes and restructuring chapters or categories of the current ICD book. Look at how your office will change to fit in the wider range of ICDs.

3- Prepare for detail expansions. Along with clerical changes, the ICD-10s may expand the detailing of conditions to accommodate more specific varieties of illness or injury. Look at how the ICD-10 will expand current descriptions of conditions and the kind of conditions to which new codes will be relevant.

4- Get memorandums out to all departments relevant to your office including billing, reimbursement, coding, registration and all other areas where a contact person can train staff to prepare for the ICD-10s. All of the branches of a medical office will be affected by the change.

5- Talk to colleagues about how the ICD-10s will affect different types of care, from in-patient to out-patient visits, including psychological care, home health care and drug and alcohol services.

6- Continue to monitor developments through AHIMA's site and through federal sites that show how legislators are approaching a possible update

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