As the recently announced deadline looms for ICD-10 implementation, there is a budding interest in assisting physicians with converting standard clinical terminology into the complex payment codes mandated by the Centers for Medicare &Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements, according to industry reports.
The implementation of ICD-10 requires significant changes to both clinical and administrative systems that capture and report diagnosis codes. These changes have many physicians worried, but language-to-code translation systems could remove some of the obstacles physicians will face in translating clinical terms into ICD-10 code sets, according to Modern Healthcare Reporter Joseph Conn.
Language-to-code translation systems are clinician-friendly digital medical dictionaries, which contain patient diagnoses and procedure descriptions in English or Latin, that are linked to lists of clinical and billing codes.
The terms are presented to practitioners as they prepare or update a problem list through software integrated in their electronic health records system (EHR). After a phrase or word is chosen, it is linked to code sets such as SNOMED CT — available free from the National Library of Medicine — the American Medical Association's Current Procedural Terminology, and ICD-9 and ICD-10.
To meet Stage 2 meaningful-use criteria, physicians are required to have systems capable of recording in SNOMED, in addition to using SNOMED codes “to document problem lists, procedures and some clinical findings,” according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) website.
There are very few smaller physician groups currently using language-to-code translators in their EHRs, Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser for the Medical Group Management Association, told Modern Healthcare.