By now, most individuals working in Healthcare have heard of ICD-10. The varying degrees of familiarity with the new diagnostic and procedure code set are as varied as the individual reactions to its upcoming required implementation. Some individuals shudder in fear as the diagnosis codes leap from ~13,000 codes in ICD-9 to ~60,000 in ICD-10 (not to mention the ~76,000 procedure codes that will now be required for use in the Inpatient environment.) Some individuals (certainly most coders and billers) can not sleep at night knowing the learning curve, productivity slowdown, and likely revenue loss that this initiative will certainly yield. Perhaps most disturbing, however, is that many individuals (including providers) believe that ICD-10 will not have an impact on their staff, their work, their finances, or the patient experience.

That, unfortunately, is a scary and fallacious understanding of what is ahead. ICD-10 will impact everyone. To make the point, I offer an example of a basic patient office visit.

Scenario: Mrs. Doris Jones is out with her daughter Molly one morning and having a very animated conversation. As they walk down the street towards their favorite breakfast place, Doris inadvertently runs right into a lamppost and bumps her head. Her daughter, fearing that Doris might have a concussion of some sort, insists her mother call Dr. Smith, their PCP for the past 30 years. Dr. Smith has always been able to fit them it for an urgent visit, so the blessed family has never had to utilize the Emergency Room for non-emergent care. However, this accident occurred in a post October 1, 2014 time, and ICD-10 codes are now mandatorily used. Let’s see just how this change really will effect everyone…

Patient: Difficulty in getting an appointment and longer wait times. As provider documentation demands increase, process efficiency decreases. Dissatisfaction with their provider and visit experience increases. Greater likelihood to go to the Emergency Room inappropriately or change physicians.

Specifically, in the example above, Dr. Smith can not see Doris today, as he is too backed up with patient encounter documentation. He is enduring longer patient visits in order to glean more details on ailments, and chart corrections. Doris feels a headache coming on.

Registration/Front Desk: Higher call volumes and inconsistent appointment times. Decreased productivity. Forced to deal with Patient dissatisfaction due longer wait times.

In the scenario above, Doris calls to make an appointment 3 times. She is told by the Front Desk Clerk that Dr. Smith has an opening next week Tuesday at 4:30 pm. Discouraged, Doris agrees to this time slot. Despite the fact that the dark blue bruise on her forehead has faded to green, her headaches persist on and off leading up to her appointment. The following week, she waits an hour in the waiting room to be seen, with no idea why it is taking so long. She tries to complain, but all of the Front Desk Clerks are on the phone. Molly advises her to go to the E.R., that people go to the E.R. all the time for less than headaches. While Doris decides to continue waiting for Dr. Smith rather than go to the E.R., many patients will not. Strategic knowledge and appropriate levels of education for Registration and Front Desk staff can assist with efficiency, patient satisfaction, and office productivity.

***Please continue to follow this scenario in ICD-10: Ignorance is NOT Bliss – Part 2, where the story of Doris, along with the far-reaching impact of ICD-10, will be explored in its impact to Clinicians and Physicians.

Please note that this is only the beginning of the story. Hopefully, by the end of this 4-part series, you will understand the critical nature of ICD-10 education, not just for Coders/Billers, but for staff, clinicians, physicians, and beyond. Thankfully, Precyse offers a true ICD-10 educational strategy and solution for these various roles. Precyse University has developed an incredibly robust ICD-10 online training program, and now you can gain access to the entire training program, for your non-clinical and clinical staff, medical billing staff, and yourself, and receive a 10% discount off of the entire order, by using coupon code SAVE10EHR, when visiting

Precyse University ICD-10 Online Training Program

Rebecca Wiedmeyer
Chief Communications Officer
EHR Scope, LLC
Eric Fishman, MD
Founder and Managing Member,
EHR Scope, LLC