Updated on: March 17, 2016

The Light at the End of the Tunnel Could Be an Oncoming Train

Original story posted on: April 3, 2012

If collaboration among providers, vendors and payers is deferred as a result of the delay of ICD-10 implementation, the light at the end of tunnel could be that of an oncoming train.

That was the sentiment expressed by Annie Boynton, director of 5010/ICD-10 communication for UnitedHealthcare, speaking in Las Vegas today on “Live from AAPC” during the second day of the association’s 20th national conference.


Boynton discussed one of the many forms of fallout that could occur in the interim as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services continues to mull a new implementation date. The current date for implementation still stands as October 2013.

Beyond collaboration of payers, providers and vendors is the essential collaboration between physicians and coders. Making that point on today’s broadcast was Joseph Nichols, MD, and Rhonda Buckholtz, vice president of ICD-10 training and education for AAPC.

Reprising for the live broadcast roles they played earlier at the general session, Nichols played the part of a harried physician while Buckholtz played the part of a coder. In the brief scene, Buckholtz asked repeatedly for Nichols to be more specific in his describing a fracture of the wrist.

Nichols was satisfied with his response: “a fracture of the wrist is a fracture of the wrist.” The scene underscored a theme connected to two essential roles: the physician and the coder, and the need for both to work together to achieve the greater specificity demanded by ICD-10 once the new code set is implemented.

The topic of specificity exhibited in the new code set prompted panelist Pamela Tienter, ICD-10 coding support manager for UnitedHealth, to describe some of the more unusual codes that exist under ICD-10. Tienter explained that UnitedHealthcare has produced in-house videos for its employees, with one segment covering unusual interactions with animals: in this case, seal bites, she explained, while also noting that there are even codes for expected injuries occurring during the Summer Olympics.

Chuck Buck

Chuck Buck is the publisher of ICD10monitor and is the executive producer and program host of Talk Ten Tuesdays.