Why CAC can’t solve all your ICD-10 problems.

By Carl Natale for ICD10Watch posted at PhysBizTech

Americans like to cure things. We’re always looking for a pill or procedure to fix what ails us.

That also applies to workplace problems. If something doesn’t work right, fix the machine or get an app to do it.

Combine those two tendencies and you have a healthcare system that embraces computer-assisted coding (CAC).

The technology has the potential to boost coding productivity to a level that compensates for the drop that’s going to come when healthcare organizations transition to ICD-10 implementation. It’s an idea that takes some of the bite out of the ICD-10 transition.

Cindy Doyon outlines the advantages of CAC:

  • Increased coding productivity and efficiency
  • Increased coding consistency
  • Availability of coding audit trail
  • Data query ability
  • Potential for more comprehensive code assignment
  • Potential increase in coding accuracy
  • Potential decrease in coding costs
  • Use of free text for recording documentation
  • System improvements through feedback

But CAC doesn’t solve all the problems created by the ICD-10 transition, says Dianne Haas, executive director of TrustHCS. She tells Erica Garvin of HIT Consultant that it can improve coding productivity and aid medical billing if done right. That means:

Haas also points out that the ICD-10 code set doesn’t just update the medical codes used. The language to describe diagnoses and procedures is more specific. Which can lead to a problem on the physician side, says Paul Weygandt in a post that debunks ICD-10 implementation strategies.

Weygandt said the problem is that CAC systems won’t work when physicians don’t enter the correct information to generate ICD-10 codes. “There are some structurally obvious coding queries which could be generated by computer assisted coding,” Weygandt wrote. “But the breakdown in the system will occur if the physicians are simply unaware of the content they need to provide for accurate coding.”

Garbage in. Garbage out.

The key to making CAC work is CDI and physician education. ICD-10 implementation isn’t just a technical challenge. It’s a new information-gathering process.

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