Thursday, October 8, 2015

ICD-10 Is Here!

Cockerell Dermatopathology met October 1st with a sense of calm since we were prepared for the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10. In fact, we were ready weeks ago. Over this time period, we’ve been sending live ICD-10 codes from the lab and none of our clients or vendors have notified us of any problems.

How did we do it?

Below are a few steps we took to ensure an easy transition.

1. We reviewed all of the codes submitted to payors for the previous years and ranked them from the highest to lowest in terms of frequency used.

2. Our team utilized our billing group to help analyze the existing ICD-9 codes and how they translated to ICD-10 codes. This process was reviewed and then revised more than three times to ensure accuracy.

3. We manually entered the appropriate parent or base code into the result key portion of our LIS database. If the verbiage in the result key supported a more specific code, it was added at this level.

4. For the base codes, we linked the more specific level codes where appropriate. This, in turn, created the mechanism to arrive at the more specific code(s).

5. We created 85 specific body part types to trigger the more specific codes linked above.

6. Lastly, we tested scores of scenarios to ensure that the most specific codes were attached to the report. We ensured the visible reports in all forms and formats were functional and ready for the ICD-10 start date.

“The secret to our ICD-10 success was that we started this project several months ago, well before the October 1st start date.  We brought a small but focused team together that spent hours producing detailed work to help develop a workable solution. I am extremely proud of this team,” stated Craig Reed, the IT manager at Cockerell Dermatopathology.

Dr. Cockerell praised Mr. Reed and the other staff involved in the ICD-10 transition project by stating, “I am very proud of my staff because they were proactive from the beginning and made what could have been a very painful process a seamless transition,” stated Dr. Cockerell.

Despite the headache ICD-10 is causing many physician practices, it does offer several benefits, such as the increased ability to accommodate new technologies and procedures; the sharing of public health data; the coding of data to help enhance research; the ability to track data that helps improve performance, create efficiencies, and contain costs; and the building of a foundation in which to develop payment systems.


Bowman, S. (2008) Why ICD-10 Is Worth the Trouble. Journal of AHIMA 79(3): 24-29.

Reed, C. (2015). ICD-10 Transition. [Interview]

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