Dr. R. A. Foxworth, FICC, MCS-P

Dr. R. A. Foxworth, FICC, MCS-P

With just three months to go until October 1, 2015, many DC’s I meet these days look like they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. Their gaze is distracted. Their breathing is shallow. I ask them how they’re doing and they mutter, “ICD-10. ICD-10!”

The transition from one code set to a brand new one is a big deal. But like most big deals, the challenge is not in trying to swallow the entire thing whole, but in breaking it up into manageable, bite-sized action steps that are easy to get down. Consider this. If someone had walked you up to a patient on an exam table on your first day of chiropractic college and told you to adjust him, you’d have freaked out on the spot, and rightfully so. It took time and incremental learning to get to the point you are today. ICD-10 won’t take you years to master, but it isn’t something you can accomplish overnight.

Why this new coding set anyway? Don’t we all have enough to worry about? At first glance, the number of codes along with their granularity and specificity seem overwhelming and even ridiculous. But all that detail is actually a positive. It will help you describe your treatment more thoroughly in your documentation and help justify medical necessity to insurers. There are bound to be bumps in the beginning, but once sorted out, ICD-10 should actually improve your reimbursement.

It’s tempting, with such a big change looming on the horizon, to give most if not all our attention to it. And it merits being at or near the top of your list for certain. But even something as big as ICD-10 is only a part of your practice. Certainly it has nothing directly to do with your commitment to your patients or your relationship with them.

In other words, ICD-10 is an insider issue—one your patients should ideally never even hear about. So no matter how top-of-mind this transition is for you and your team, make sure the frustration, overwhelm, and distraction don’t make their way to your front desk or your exam table. Yes, it’s kind of a one-way street. Your patients may well tell you about the minutiae of their daily lives—things that have nothing to do with their treatment. You and your team, however, enjoy no such equivalent luxury. Trust me, none of your patients want to hear about your coding and financial department issues.

So what do patients want to hear about? Themselves and their care, first and foremost. It’s not that chiropractic patients are inherently self-absorbed. It’s that their health is why they’re in your office and on your table. Got a cute anecdote about something relevant to them? Go ahead and tell it. Tempted to confess how weird or difficult you think it’s going to be when you’re dealing with thousands more codes? Keep it to yourself.

ChiroHealthUSA can help you manage your ICD-10 concerns “offline” so you’re not leaking tension around your patients. We’re proud to call some of the best and brightest minds in the business our colleagues; specialists who understand ICD-10 and all the steps necessary to get you from here to the October 1st transition. For help on managing this huge change to our coding “language,” please do reach out. Our ongoing weekly Webinar Series keeps you up to date on ICD-10 and a wide range of other issues facing the chiropractic profession.