Prepare for ICD-10 with Podcast & Proficiency Prep Tool


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ICD-10 Countdown – Oct. 1, 2014 – 559 days until implementation

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) recently hosted its annual event for 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and among the featured guest speakers was Rhonda Buckholtz, AAPC Vice President of ICD-10 Training and Education, together with her co-presenter, Dr. Donald Rappe, CPC-A. They gave insight to allay concerns for providers and coders as to what challenges could be expected from ICD-10 implementation on Oct. 1, 2014.

Buckholtz was interviewed by ICD-10 Monitor’s Talk Ten Tuesday on March 5 in a podcast and discussed the concern among providers that payers may not reimburse anymore when a patient’s conditions are coded with an unspecified diagnosis code or that if a provider continues to utilize them in ICD-10, the backlash from the payer will be to systematically reduce reimbursement back to that provider.

That is definitely a serious concern for the provider community and the issue surrounding documentation specificity, so in order to address this,  Buckholtz stated the following: “I want to make sure physicians are prepared for [ICD-10],” and added, “Dr. Rappe and I went over some various clinical examples and provided some guidance towards physicians and working with them on their clinical documentation.”

Rappe was also quoted stating that “Physicians and coders bring different, but very professional and complementary skill sets to the table. As long as the two groups are talking together, this process and transition is going to go a lot more smoothly.”

This is a win in my eyes for the medical billing and coding professionals out there, as oftentimes these professionals face opposition when they try to educate providers regarding documentation specificity. To learn more about this interesting and useful discussion on ICD-10 from Buckholtz and Rappe, please click here to access the Talk Ten Tuesday Podcast.

Once you are on the site, scroll down and look for the podcast entitled:

Talk Ten Tuesday, March 5, 2013
HIMSS Week Starts Today: Live from New Orleans
Featuring Special Guest Rhonda Buckholtz, CPC, CPMA, CPC-I, CENTC, CGSC, COBGC, CPEDC with Donald Rappe, MD; Stephen Spain, MD, and Mike Hodgson

Hot Topic: ICD-10-CM Proficiency Assessment

The next hot topic I would like to discuss in reference to ICD-10-CM is as follows: “What does the AAPC require certified coders to do for ICD-10-CM?” I often am asked this question and I want to refer you to the AAPC website where you can find the information on the Required ICD-10-CM Proficiency Assessment that all AAPC-certified coders are required to pass.

Okay, so for those of you who were not aware of this mandatory assessment, you can now pick yourselves up off the floor and continue reading, to get the details on who, what, and when you are required to comply with this mandatory directive to keep your certification status with the AAPC.

The AAPC has deemed that all certified coders must sit for and pass the ICD-10-CM Proficiency Assessment, which will be available to take taking starting Oct. 1, 2013. Certified coders will have two years and two chances to pass the proficiency assessment, from Oct. 1, 2013, through Sept. 30, 2015, in order to maintain valid credential status.

The AAPC has set the ICD-10-CM Proficiency Assessment as the only required component for certified coders to take in order to keep credentialed status; all other ICD-10-CM training that the AAPC offers is optional for certified coders.

The ICD-10-CM Proficiency Exam is open-book and un-proctored and is taken online. The assessment will measure a coder’s understanding of the following areas:

  • What the structure and format is for ICD-10-CM
  • How ICD-10-CM codes are categorized and grouped
  • Delineation of official ICD-10-CM guidelines
  • Formal ICD-10-CM coding concepts

The exam is composed of 75 questions and you will have 3.5 hours to complete it, utilizing any resource available to you. You must achieve an 80% to pass. The cost for the exam is $60 and no CEUs are given.

Coders can help themselves with preparations for taking the assessment exam by signing up for the AAPCs ICD-10 Online Proficiency Prep Tool, which offers experience and tips via 50 exercises based on sample cases that you will code. The cost is nominal, at $29.95 for AAPC members and $39.95 for non-members, and I highly recommend this tool along with the other prior free tools as a proactive pairing towards sitting for the mandatory exam.

To learn more about the assessment exam and the Proficiency Prep Tool from the AAPC, please click here.

The AAPC offers another useful tool that is color coded and illustrates an ICD-10 documentation example, which covers pseudo encounter information and focuses on increased specificity, which is mandatory for successful ICD-10 coding.

Please click here to view the AAPC’s documentation example.

Final Thoughts

I want to stress the fact that medical billing and coding professionals should not wait around for their employers to provide them with the necessary training to be ready for ICD-10 on Oct. 1, 2014. You must be proactive and start preparations yourself as it is you who will be required to sit and pass the mandatory Assessment Exam, not your employer. So don’t wait until the last minute or you will risk losing your hard-earned credentials and job.

Happy Coding!


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