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Something for the Pain

 In Chiropractic Compliance, Chiropractic EHR, chiropractic software, ICD-10, ICD-10 for Chiropractic
ICD-10By Kathleen Casbarro

Simplifying coding issues can relieve practice tension

How can software make a difference in the ICD-10 changeover?

“Doctor!” The box on Ben’s desk squawked. Pam always sounded professional, but Ben knew her well enough to hear the tension in her voice.

Ben hesitated for just a moment over the stack of paperwork he’d been plowing through, but decided he should respond to Pam’s obvious stress. As he neared the front desk, he heard raised voices.

“You’ve already been to the doctor!” a young woman shouted at an older man whose face was set in pain… or perhaps in stubbornness. “He’s already been to the doctor!” she repeated in Pam’s direction.

“Maybe I can help,” Ben offered.

“I was in a car accident–” the older man began.

“My dad has been to the doctor and to the hospital,” the young woman said firmly, “and they told him it was back pain and it would get better in time. They gave him pain medication to take and he won’t take it. Now he’s insisting on coming here, and I don’t think his insurance will pay. I just want to take him home.”

Family altercations weren’t as common in Ben’s chiropractic clinic as they were in hospitals, but he recognized the situation. The daughter was worried that her dad wouldn’t be able to pay, the old man was still in pain, and their worries were showing up as anger.

“Let me take these good people back and have a little chat,” he said calmly to Pam. Getting the shouting out of his waiting room was the first priority. He’d get them calmed down, explain the situation, and then bring them back to Pam for intake, and the paperwork — well, it looked like he’d be working late again.

It was hours later when Ben had a chance to discuss the event with Pam.

“I’ve been thinking about the man who’d had a car accident,” she said. “We’re always careful to avoid using the ICD-9 code 724.5 for back pain because it tends not to get paid. We make sure to use the most specific code we can so the patient’s insurance will be able to pay.”

Ben nodded.

“I realized that I don’t have that knowledge about the new ICD-10 codes,” Pam continued. “We’re always focused on the people we treat, but the paperwork is what allows us to keep the doors open and take care of those people. I’m worrying that the new insurance reporting codes will get in the way.”

“I think we may have a solution,” Ben said. “I’ve been talking with the people at Genesis — the new practice management software. They had a really sensible approach to it. Three things: assessment, documentation, and implementation. That’s better than focusing on the 70,000 new codes, right?”

“It might be,” Pam said uncertainly, “If I knew just what that meant.”

Ben laughed. “Fair enough,” he said. “What I get is that the software will cluster the codes into groups so we can drill down to the right one, instead of trying to memorize everything. We’ll be able to see the relevant ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes on the billing screen, along with which payers are using each set, and we’ll have a crosswalk that will let us learn and train before the deadline.”

“All on the billing screen?” Pam sounded excited. “That sounds workable.”

“Workable,” Ben repeated. “That’s it exactly. It’s like when we get a patient having a meltdown in the front office — we may feel a little stress, but we have workable systems in place to handle it, and it turns out well.”

How can software make a difference in the ICD-10 changeover?

View our ICD-10 page for everything we know about ICD-10.

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