Sentara has invested almost $32 million in training, technology and process redesign to prepare for ICD-10.

Sentara Healthcare prepared for ICD-10

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Sentara Healthcare is preparing for ICD-10 implementation on Oct. 1, 2015.  More than 10,600 personnel in multiple disciplines across the enterprise have been trained or are completing ICD-10 training. With an employee campaign dubbed ‘Power of 10,’ Sentara has invested almost $32 million over two years in training, new computer software and process redesign across 12 hospitals, integrated services and the Sentara-owned Optima Health Plan.

ICD-10 is the International Classification of Diseases, used by virtually all developed countries except the United States to precisely identify diseases states, manage population health, track pandemics and assure timely, accurate reimbursement to providers. In 2014, the U.S. delayed implementation of ICD-10 until 2015.

“The use of diagnostic codes has always been part of the health care billing and reimbursement process,” said Robert Broermann, chief financial officer for Sentara Healthcare. “It’s how information is accumulated about the prevalence of injuries and illnesses and it’s used to track the costs of treating those conditions,” Broermann added. “Converting to ICD-10 will significantly improve the precision of that information in the U.S.”

ICD-10 captures new diseases, procedures, technologies

Now in use for more than 30 years, ICD-9 codes have fallen behind modern medical terminology. For instance, ICD-9 has no codes identifying Ebola, the deadly disease that swept the African continent in 2014 and appeared in the U.S.  There are technologies and procedures in use today that did not exist when ICD-9 was adopted and cannot be added due to limits in ICD-9’s infrastructure.  ICD-10 features many more codes than ICD-9 for identifying disease states, which allows more accurate coding. While ICD-9 has about 13,000 diagnosis codes, ICD-10 currently has 68,000. ICD-9 features 4,000 procedure codes, ICD-10, 72,000.

“ICD-10 is not just about billing and reimbursement,” said Bogdan Neughebauer, M.D., infectious disease specialist with Sentara Medical Group. “ICD-10 allows timely tracking of pandemics such as a flu outbreak or Ebola and it will help identify areas of the U.S. or the world where certain diseases are more prevalent.”

Trained personnel are practicing with ‘dual coding’ using both ICD-9 and ICD-10 to ensure they are ready to perform accurate ICD-10 coding after implementation on October 1.  Healthcare providers trained on ICD-10 also have access to a mobile app through a Sentara training contractor to help them stay current.

How will ICD-10 affect consumers?

“We want ICD-10 implementation to be a non-event for our patients, who hopefully won’t notice anything different,” said Marion Swaim, vice president of health information management for Sentara. “The work we are doing now to prepare for implementation will help ensure correct coding and timely claims processing and reimbursement for providers who do business with Sentara and Optima Health.”