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Hospitals flip the ICD-10 switch, adding 68,000 ways to tell you're sick

Lucas Mearian | Oct. 2, 2015
The medical classification code goes live today.

Atlantic Health opened an ICD-10 "command center" yesterday to handle what it expects will be a flood of inquiries about the new codes.

"We have an army of people at the pre-registration department, so when patients come in, our top priority is to make sure they get their services," Reed said. "Everybody is armed with a cell phone so they can help patients call their physicians offices so they can get their codes."

Prior to going live today, Atlantic Health went through four application upgrades to database systems and many smaller software patches by vendors, the last of which occurred at midnight yesterday, Reed said.

Physicians and nurses went through training early in the process to become familiar with the new coding system.

But it's not the hospital's staff that concerns Reed at this point. "Our other concern is that there are payers who will not be ready. We already know Medicaid said they're not ready," she said.

Because the coding system is being implemented on a Thursday, close to a weekend, it will likely take until early next week to see how payers respond to billing with the new codes, Reed said.

Most hospitals and health systems have spent the last several months doing end-to-end testing with their payer partners and working to iron out any glitches. Additionally, they've spent countless hours training physicians and coders on the intricacies of ICD-10.

During the weeks and months ahead, CIOs will closely monitor how the transition is going to ensure that their organizations are positioned to take full advantage of the benefits of the new coding system.

"Today it's the patient-facing stuff, ensuring we can get codes into our system and take care them," Reed said.


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