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September 14, 2018

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Disclaimer: Every reasonable effort was made to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time it was published. However, due to the nature of industry changes over time we cannot guarantee its validity after the year it was published.
The authors discusses the lawsuit against Providence St. Joseph Health Services for alleged upcoding. Performance with a purpose must be the driving force for business operations, personal goals, work and life accomplishments, and personal choices. The concept of performance with purpose must be a fundamental foundation governing all aspects of…
Recent FCA activity focuses on coding compliance issues Recently in healthcare news were articles about two legal actions that cause one to reflect on the need for a strong (or stronger) coding and clinical documentation improvement (CDI) compliance programs.  The first legal action cited the False Claims Act (FCA) and…
ICD-10-CM supports this new classification system. Four major cardiology associations have once again collaborated to update the universal standard definition of myocardial infarction (MI), and this effort was more ambitious than any prior effort. In a document published simultaneously by the American College of Cardiology (ACC), the American Heart Association…
New code changes number 335. The new current procedural terminology (CPT®) codes have been released with 335 code changes in 2019.  There were many code revisions with guideline, description and instructional note changes.   Let’s look at the highlights of many new CPT codes for 2019. There six new codes in the…
The proposal is on the table as part of proposed E&M changes. EDITOR’S NOTE: The following story was published by RACmonitor on Aug. 16, 2018. By now I am sure that everyone is well aware that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed modifications to the reimbursement…
Proposed rule will cut by 50% claims submitted with modifier 25. In what is being reported as the biggest change of its kind in more than two decades, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to redefine the documentation requirements for evaluation and management (E&M) coding in 2019,…
Coordination and Maintenance committee takes place Sept. 11 and 12 at CMS. The Coordination and Maintenance Committee meeting takes place twice per year, in March and September. These meetings develop the spirit of coding. In other words, the meetings center on the philosophy or the intent of the codes. One…
Proposed E&M code changes would impact specialty physicians. Some physicians are probably not very happy with recently proposed changes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) designed the changes to reduce paperwork and enable physicians to spend more time with patients. Those seem…
HATA survey reveals membership dissatisfaction with prior authorization transactions. In a recent report to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to examine the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS’s) prior authorization programs, including its benefits and challenges. The GAO spoke with many…
The OIG continues to review cases of malnutrition. The diagnosis of severe protein calorie malnutrition is under high scrutiny from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG). Today, I’d like to explore the reasons…
In addition to CTE, head trauma could also lead to Parkinson’s and ALS. The National Football League (NFL) signed an agreement in January 2017 covering 17,200 registered league retirees to compensate them for treatment of diagnosed neurological disorders, up to $5 million per person. The proposed fund totaled $675 million…
It’s not the credentials, but knowledge of the clinical validator that counts. Clinical documentation integrity (CDI) professionals come from a variety of backgrounds and skill sets. Frequently, we see health information management (HIM) coding professionals and nurses stepping into the role of CDI. Their respective education and experiences help provide…
Trends in Clinical Documentation, Past, Present, and Future – Part II EDITOR’S NOTE: This topic has solicited many comments, creating as contentious debate, since Part I was published in the ICD-10monitor e-News on July 17 and discussed the same day on Talk-Ten-Tuesdays. I want to highlight some of the comments,…
Overview of CMS final rules is provided by the author So this is the season for 2019 Medicare facility payment rules. These rules are required each year to update payment rates and processes, as well as additional policies for the next fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1. These are…
The author comments on proposed E&M changes. Has my entire career been based on a lie? For 33 years, I have been espousing the party line that good documentation positively impacts patient care. I have taught documentation to providers who have gotten in trouble with their medical boards for six…
Proposed rule on 2019 Physician Fee Schedule offers greater incentives Revisions in the Quality Payment Program (QPP) proposed rule, tucked into the 2019 Physician Fee Schedule, will make for heightened competition and expectations among physicians participating in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid…
CMS proposes significant changes to E&M services. There has been much confusion over the years regarding documenting for evaluation and management (E&M) services since the 1997 Official Guidelines were released. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) kept promising revised guidelines for years without delivering results.  During that time,…
Changes coming with 2019 Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting of ICD-10-CM The 2019 Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting of ICD-10-CM have been released, and they certainly encompass some notable changes, as always. Changes occur in the “Conventions,” the “General Guidelines,” and several chapter-specific guidelines as well. Narrative changes…
New codes to be presented at the September Coordination and Maintenance Committee meeting There is a lot of buzz in the industry about the possibility of ICD-11. We are so many years from that becoming a possibility, though, with our clinical modifications and political culture. And we still have a…
Major E&M changes on the horizon. Probably the biggest change in healthcare in two decades is the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposal to redefine the documentation requirements for evaluation and management (E&M) coding in 2019. The agency is proposing to forego the 1995 and 1997 guidelines for…
The author responds to a Talk Ten Tuesday listener's comments regarding the coding of bronchoalveolar lavage. During the Talk Ten Tuesday broadcast on July 24, 2018, Stacey Elliott, an inpatient compliance specialist and a guest panelist on program, and I had a discussion regarding bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). Stacey had a…
The recent escalation of mass murders prompts this article previously posted on ICD10monitor. EDITOR’S NOTE: At least 31 people were killed over the weekend in mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, begging the question of what have we learned? On Feb. 26, 2018, ICD10monitor published my interview with renowned psychiatrist H.…
Patients in New York may be certified to use medical marijuana as a substitute for opioids. EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a transcript of a recent Talk Ten Tuesday broadcast featuring the author. An interesting development in the use of medical marijuana was reported recently by a number of major…
CMS proposed major changes to E&M coding but still solicits feedback from stakeholders. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) wants to simplify outpatient E&M coding by letting providers choose an office visit code level based on the most important component, medical decision making (MDM), or face time spent…
More than physician payment rules in the CMS IPPS proposal The physician fee schedule rule is one of many payment system rules that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issues each year. There are also rules for the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS), Outpatient PPS, Skilled Nursing Facilities…
Sexual harassment covers a wide range of behaviors. We are hearing more and more about sexual harassment in workplaces of all types, from business to the media and the arts. Unfortunately, this is also an issue in medicine. While some may think that physicians should “know better” and not engage…
FY 2019 Official Guidelines for Coding & Reporting were released on Thursday and contain notable changes.The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has released and posted the fiscal year (FY) 2019 official guidelines for coding and reporting ICD-10-CM. Oct 1, 2018 will bring some notable changes that will help with…
Preparing for the 2019 IPPS final rule marks a busy time for healthcare professionals. While the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) posted the 2019 Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) proposed rule back in April, the move continues to generate controversy and confusion. Of particular note is the agency’s…
Reporting bronchoalveolar lavage is all about location, location, location Reporting bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) has historically been a documentation nightmare for physicians and a quandary among coders. Physicians often use the right and left lung lobe sections to geographically indicate where the bronchoscope was advanced in the bronchial tree during BAL…
Integrated approach targets both the physical and mental health needs of patients. Up to one in four primary care patients suffer from depression. And some recent studies have shown surprising ties between cardiac health and mental health. Yet for many people, it is difficult to find quality mental health resources…
The author reports on the recently released American Hospital Association’s Coding Clinic. I was just able to free up the time to review the most recently published Coding Clinic (CC), and I will share my thoughts on the updates with you in this article. It took some energy to sort…
Join us for special news coverage of the 2021 IPPS update during our summer celebration of IPPSpalooza!Check out ICD10monitors 2021 IPPS Final Rule Webcast Series in August → 2021 IPPS FINAL RULE CODING WEBCAST SERIESICD-10-PCS • ICD-10-CM • MS-DRG Shifts& New Technology Payment Adjustments LEARN MORE
Trends in Clinical Documentation, Past, Present, and Future – Part I For nearly a century, since Grace W. Myers of Massachusetts General Hospital became the first medical records librarian in the early 1900s and the American College of Surgeons (ACOS) sought to improve the standards of medical records being created…
CMS proposes to change physician evaluation and management (E&M) coding with a drastic overhaul. EDITOR’S NOTE: The following report first appeared on RACmonitor on July 13, 2018 After soliciting comments from many stakeholders in the last year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has just proposed sweeping changes…
Document it right on the front end; avoid fighting a denial on the back end I was recently asked about a post from Hospital Performance regarding acute respiratory failure and airway protection (https://soundphysicians.com/blog/2018/06/20/from-the-appeals-desk-acute-respiratory-failure-part-1-2/), and I wanted to expand on what the author, Dr. Hesham Hassaballa, wrote. A key point is…
The “right documentation” is the central pivot point to the revenue cycle   Physician clinical documentation plays a critical role in any overall healthcare delivery model, including the life of the revenue cycle, which drives reimbursement for quality medical care provided to patients. The revenue cycle is defined by the…
The WHO’s definitions of gender-related issues continue to cause controversy. The recent news coming out of Geneva, Switzerland and reported here by ICD10monitor that the World Health Organization (WHO) had released its 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) was greeted by most healthcare professionals as good news.…
Accounting for socioeconomic factors is critical to the sustainability of healthcare. A recent blog headline in the American Council of Science and Health captured the healthcare industry’s attention. The headline read, Medicare Could Cover Food, Air Conditioners...Is Sex Next? The focus was on recent action by the Centers for Medicare…
ICD-10 code I21.A1 identifies Type 2 MI. Over the past two months, I have been making the rounds speaking at regional and national conferences and going on-site for my consulting business. Many of you have approached me and assured me that the message I am trying to convey is indeed…
“Medical necessity” is a much-used but often-misunderstood concept. After our recent four-part series on the “Pitfalls of an Audit” and our last Talk Ten Tuesdays segment on the series, I had taken a position on medical decision-making (MDM) of the evaluation and management (E&M) record being the overarching criteria for…
WHO team leader to weigh in on the new coding set. The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Robert Jakob, MD is scheduled to appear on Talk Ten Tuesdays this morning, according to Chuck Buck, publisher of ICD10monitor and executive producer and program host of its marquee weekly Internet radio broadcast. Dr.…
U.S. adoption of the new codes is not expected until after 2022. A lot of excitement was generated last week when the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the International Classification of Diseases, Eleventh Edition (ICD-11) was being released.  But there is a long way to go before the finalization…
National HIV Testing Day is June 27. Wednesday is National HIV Testing Day—a day designated to highlight the importance of testing in detecting, treating, and preventing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. This special day is designed to encourage people to get tested for HIV, know their status, and get linked to…
A Pittsburgh-based MD weighs in on an emerging area of focus in the healthcare industry. EDITOR’S NOTE: The following are remarks made by the author during a recent broadcast of Talk Ten Tuesdays. Today I would like to focus on outpatient clinical documentation improvement (CDI), often referred to as the…
The deaths of prominent Americans by suicide are driving discussions over a troubling trend. The suicide deaths last week of globetrotting television chef and author Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade have triggered the release of a number of new studies on suicides in America, but an open letter…
Clinical documentation will need to reflect these situations in order to be accurately coded. When beginning research for this article, I opened my 2018 ICD-10-CM book to the External Cause Index section, specifically for the word “harassment,” but it was missing.     The next area I reviewed was the Index, but…
A phenomenon that affects more than a third of American workers is hitting the medical sector particularly hard. Thirty-seven percent of American workers are affected by workplace bullying (WB), amounting to roughly 54 million people. When you include coworker bystanders of those persons bullied, the numbers total nearly 50 percent…
A female physician advisor brings a unique perspective to women’s health in the context of leadership within the industry.   EDITOR’S NOTE: The following are comments made by the author during a recent Talk-Ten-Tuesdays broadcast on women’s health. I would love to take this opportunity to speak about women empowerment.…
A major shift in the reporting of transgender issues is at hand.They’re here, but it won’t be until sometime until after 2022 that the United States is expected to adopt the codes of ICD-11 – the new International Classification of Diseases, Version 11 – released yesterday by the World Health…
Total number of new code changes is 473 with 279 new codes, 143 revised codes and 51 deactivated codes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Monday released the fiscal year (FY) 2019 ICD-10-CM (diagnosis) code changes. There are 473 code changes beginning Oct. 1st, including 279 new codes,…
Healthcare can incorporate SDoH data into daily workflows and operations. Earlier in June I wrote about that necessary marriage of costs, coding, and the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). I was proud to be a guest on ICD10monitor’s Talk-Ten-Tuesdays to continue this dialogue. The interest and response was powerful, and…
New hybrid CDI program blends off and on-site CDI operations. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is a world-renowned healthcare provider and insurer based in Pittsburgh, Penn. that has 80,000 employees in the state. UPMC operates more than 30 academic, community, and specialty hospitals and more than 600 doctors’ offices…
Is your Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system helping you pass an audit or hurting you?   Editor’s Note: This is the final installment in a four-part series that examines physician documentation issues as seen by an auditor. In the last installment of this four-part series, I want to discuss the…
Nonaccidental trauma (NAT) should code to “child abuse, suspected or confirmed.”The challenges of coding “child abuse, suspected or confirmed” is becoming a source of increased interest for me. When ICD-10 rolled out, as among the changes was a coding guideline that included a code for “child abuse” (and any time…
Risk adjustment has been used to entice payers and providers to accept patients with multiple chronic conditions along with those patients who are relatively healthy. Is coding and billing for risk adjustment really any different than what we have been doing all along? It is different in that the codes…
Strive to achieve coding compliance that really works. I’m often asked about how one would or should strive for coding compliance and make it happen. The first thing I do is to identify and acknowledge the risks or potential risks that occur. We all know that there are risks across…
The industry knows that focusing more on SDoH reduces costs. Healthcare costs and coding have been married over 35 years, since the Social Security Act was amended to include a national Diagnostic Related Groups (DRG)-based hospital prospective payment system for all Medicare patients.  The culture of the healthcare industry changed…
Some providers hesitate to use the word “abuse” preferring, instead, to use non-accidental trauma (NAT). Despite what revenue cycle may believe, clinical documentation is not solely for billing. One of the biggest problems with imprecise, nonspecific diagnoses which lead to unspecified codes or, even worse, index to no codes at…
There will be 392 new PCS codes; eight revision titles; and 216 deleted codes.The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released and posted the fiscal year (FY) 2019 ICD-10-PCS (procedural coding system) changes. The files contain information on the ICD-10-PCS updates for FY 2019 that all hospital inpatient…
Eight steps to create a physician advisor system. The physician advisor (PA) role has become more commonplace over the last decade, with an increasing number of hospitals and health systems turning to PAs to assist with a variety of issues, such as supporting clinical documentation integrity (CDI), ensuring compliance with…
Is your Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system helping you pass an audit or hurting you? Editor’s Note: This is the third piece in a four-part series that examines physician documentation issues as seen by an auditor. As we dive even further into the auditing pitfalls of a physician E&M audit,…
New CMS document features gems that fill risk adjustment voids for coding rules. Coders love rules. In risk adjustment coding, we live by the Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, the ICD-10-CM conventions for code lookup, and the AHA Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS. Too often, though, we run…
CDI, when properly performed, supports the ancient physician oath, “First, do no harm.”  Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists(CDISs) play a vital role in the overall scheme of healthcare delivery through affecting measurable meaningful improvement in the quality, completeness, and accuracy in the telling of the patient story. The major beneficiaries of…
ICD10monitor recognizes National Women’s Health Week. Women’s issues have a starring role in the national reckoning that has followed the presidential election of 2016. Nowhere is this more true—and more important—than in the field of healthcare, where the way women are hired, paid, and treated in the workplace affects not…
An inspiring story about rebranding a facility’s CDI department To raise a torch to the strength of women working in healthcare I must share an introductory story on the transformation of a revitalized CDI Department that has pursued success through the strength of 23 women, and the celebrations are taking…
ICD-10 codes for the top five women’s health issues are provided in this report. Heart disease, breast cancer, osteoporosis, depression, and autoimmune diseases are the top five women’s health issues, according WebMD. This article will provide information such as risk factors, treatment, and the ICD-10-CM associated codes (of course!).  …
Health of teenage girls is in the nation’s spotlight on women’s health issues. We would be remiss to focus on National Women’s Health Week and not include topics specific to teenaged girls. Having said that, my first of two items admittedly pertains to girls and boys. But, given the higher…
AHIMA hopes data gathering and sharing will help address the issue. Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die as a result of opioid overdose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NDA). Tracing the origin of the crisis to the widespread distribution of opioid pain…
Physician documentation issues during an audit go beyond CDI. The issues are the chief complaint and HPI. Editor’s Note: This is the second piece in a four-part series that examines physician documentation issues as seen by an auditor. As I discussed in the first portion of our series on physician…
CMS encourages providers to talk, test, and treat STDs. When it comes to sexually transmitted disease (STD) awareness, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is encouraging providers to take three simple steps in protecting their patients through talk, testing, and treating: Talk openly about STDs with your partners…
Expansion of new ICD-10 codes has slowed. The 2019 Inpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule covers many Medicare Severity Diagnosis-Related Groups (MS-DRGs) changes, in addition to changes to the Value-Based Purchasing (VBP), Hospital-Acquired Conditions (HACs), and Hospital Readmission Reduction program, as well as the post-acute care transfer policy. The length…
The importance of an effective outpatient CDI program cannot be overstated When working with a member of the sales force for a previous employer, I was asked, “What is the biggest problem coders encounter?” My answer, very simply put, was “physician documentation!” I should have added “or lack thereof!” We…
Physician documentation issues during an audit go beyond CDI. EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a four-part series that examines physician documentation issues as seen by an auditor. One of the services I offer, aside from coding and billing education, is practice audits for evaluation and management (E&M) procedural…
Ten strategies for avoiding burnout are provided by the author. On any given day, if you walked into my home office, you might think you were in a spa. The walls are painted a soothing aqua color (at least, I think it’s soothing), a scent diffuser releases a pleasant tea…
Removal of the requirement, if adopted, becomes effective FY 2020. Our early review of the document and accompanying fact sheets has identified a number of provisions of interest to inpatient rehabilitation facility (IRF) providers. One of the key provisions, the removal of the Functional Independence Measure (FIMTM) Instrument and associated…
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Early documentation instruction sorely lacking Last week, during ICD10monitor’s Talk Ten Tuesdays broadcast, Larry Field, DO, treasurer of the American College of Physician Advisors (ACPE), shared the tale of a relatively new hospitalist who was disenchanted with medicine and considering a transition into physician advising after only three years of…
Achieving accurate and comprehensive coding of such issues is an imperative. Mental and behavioral disorders have recently had a media spotlight shone on them, and coding of these disorders can sometimes be tricky. Learning the nuances can help achieve accurate coding, which will enhance data necessary to make improvements in…
Anticipated schedule of the posting of new ICD-10 codes, including dates for public comment. Typically, after the annual Coordination and Maintenance Committee meeting, the next question is this: when will the new codes be published? The short answer is potentially near late April or early May. Final decisions regarding the…
Each patient’s story should be told in the official record. The clinical documentation integrity (CDI) profession has only scratched the surface of instilling positive change in patterns of physician documentation and communication of patient care. There exists a myriad of opportunities for CDI specialists to capitalize upon and truly improve…
She had chosen palliative care as the medical therapy. EDITOR’S NOTE: Former First Lady Barbara Bush died Tuesday at age 92 at her home in Houston, having decided to decline further medical treatment for health problems and instead to focus on “comfort care.” The ‘Great Man Theory’ of history was…
Women earn less than men in nearly every single occupation. Recently, I left my home base in southeastern Wisconsin and landed in the warm and humid landscape that is Orlando to attend Hospital Medicine 2018, hosted by the Society of Hospital Medicine. It’s a bit of a homecoming as this…
CCD is when the typical and customary documentation of a condition does not line up with the available codes or the indexing. Last week, I discussed the Type 2 MI issue. This week, I will address the higher-level problem of the “coding-clinical disconnect,” which I am going to refer to…
HIM coding can play a part in stopping the abuse and neglect of children Marking April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we note that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that child abuse and neglect are significant public health issues in the United States. The CDC reports that…
It is highly recommended to self-audit first, internally, with qualified staff. EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a four-part series on the importance of passing or failing an audit and avoiding being a red-flag to payers. One of the services I offer, aside from coding and billing education, is…
A recent study on gender wage discrepancy sheds new light on an old issue.   EDITOR’S NOTE: Opinions expressed by ICD10monitor contributors are their own. Following the sea of knitted pink hats worn by some of the hundreds of thousands of women who took to the streets in cities across…
Type 2 MI is not a coding construct.  I received some correspondence regarding my Type 2 myocardial infarction article last week which prompted me to ponder the coding-clinical disconnect. Let us address the Type 2 MI concerns this week, and next week, I will tackle the broader picture. Historically, the…
This disease of the brain is the most common neurological disorder Parkinson’s awareness is being addressed tomorrow, April 11, as “World Parkinson’s Day,” also making April national Parkinson’s awareness month here in the U.S. As a neurodegenerative disease of the brain, which impacts an individual’s motor function, Parkinson’s Disease (PD)…
Review your payer policies when performing these services. Pain management coding can be tricky.  Trigger point injection therapy is a common procedure performed by pain management specialists, orthopedic surgeons, physical medicine and rehab and other specialties. Trigger point injection therapy is used for the treatment of myofascial pain syndrome (MPS).…
Frustrations arise over inconsistent guidance from MACs and CMS. Every single day, I get numerous email notices from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) for our jurisdiction on a wide variety of “priorities:” correct coding, quality measures, new reporting initiatives, and a…
The main burden for this change is on healthcare providers such as physicians, clinics, hospitals. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will start issuing the new Medicare cards with the MBI (Medicare Beneficiary Identifier) number beginning April 1.  The Social Security Number (SSN) based HICN (Health Insurance Claim…