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Medical coding system upgrade nearing rollout

Mar. 5, 2015, 8:09 AM

To get a sense of how big a change it will be when a new medical coding and reporting system goes into effect later this year, consider this: The current system contains more than 14,000 codes for unique medical diagnoses. The new one has more than 68,000.

A team of Vanderbilt University Medical Center project managers is working to get the word out about the new system — called ICD-10 — and provide training ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline.

At least 6,000 clinicians, coders and staff across the medical enterprise will be impacted by the change.

The project team plans to begin a staggered migration to the new system starting April 7.
The team will migrate roughly 10 clinics per week, said Debora Bohlen, administrative director for the transition.

The target is to have all systems changed over to the new codes by August.

“The ICD-10 project is a huge undertaking. However, our team is doing an excellent job of reaching out to all areas of the organization to help remediate all tools and applications to be ICD-10 compliant,” Bohlen said.

“We have brought together multiple teams with representatives from training, coding, technology, clinical areas, research, quality, finance and others to ensure that Vanderbilt has a smooth transition to the new ICD-10 code set.”

The current ICD-9 code set — which stands for International Classification of Disease and Related Health Problems, 9th Revision — has been in use in the United States since 1979. The transition has been in the works for years. The system was set to go into place in 2013, but was postponed twice.

Most health care billing and statistical analysis use ICD codes. Sometimes providers assign codes while other times specialists assign them based on information in medical record.

The project team is working to put in place a computer-assisted physician documentation system, which will help surgeons in particular complete post-operative notes that are ICD-10 compliant.

In the weeks ahead, the project team will work to touch base with all interested parties to make sure they are aware of all computer systems at VUMC that could potentially need to be updated, Bohlen said.

Thousands of staff and clinicians will need training on the new coding system, Bohlen said. Those staff members who have already received training may also need a refresher. Both group training and online learning modules will be offered.

For more information visit VUMC’s ICD-10 transition website (Vanderbilt login required) or by calling the project transition office at 615-343-1657.

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