ICD-10 is Not an Airplane

It’s Another Part of HIPAA the ADA Won’t Discuss

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

A couple of days following the heads up I posted concerning the imminent upgrade from the tedious ICD-9 coding system to the ICD-10 that is said to be exponentially more complicated, informatics specialist Tom Sullivan posted a signal to fellow coders nationwide: “7 tactics for making ICD-10 urgent.”

http://www.healthcareitnews.com/blog/7-tactics-making-icd-10-urgent 

If you are fed up with unfunded, non-productive and ineffective mandates like I am, I imagine an alert to coders to create urgency in your practice makes your ear lobes burn bright red as well.

Tedious Administrative Tasks 

According to Sullivan, the ICD-10 presents providers with new requirements for “care management protocols, clinical and financial databases and reports, reimbursement, registries, quality management and research.” These requirements do not promote patients’ best interests. These tedious administrative tasks only enable HIPAA-covered entities to get paid.

ADA

If you are a HIPAA-covered dentist with a voluntary but permanent 10-digit NPI number which is required for ICD-10 compliancy, are you aware if ADA leaders have yet described the ICD-10 coding system any better than they described the NPI number that Delta Dental, BCBSTX, as well as the ADA aggressively promoted years ago?

Who knows? The ICD-10 may not even apply to dentistry. Somewhere deep in the HIPAA Rule, there might be a footnote that says “except in dental practices.”

Department of Dental Informatics

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard rumors about HIPAA’s nasty surprises for dentists. Five years ago this month, “quality” control through dental informatics was enthusiastically but perhaps prematurely revealed to me by an excited spokesman for the ADA Department of Dental Informatics. It was his email that equipped me with everything I needed for this 5 year adventure.

Shortly afterwards, the topic of HIPAA became so poisonous for ADA officials to discuss that the misled leaders who unwittingly signed on to promote digital fantasies in dentistry only rarely appeared in print and never on the internet – leaving the responsibility of informing naïve and trusting ADA members about the downsides of EHRs to those who sell EHRs.

Nevertheless, following three years of official silence about HIPAA from the ADA, in the last 14 months there have been two commentaries published in the JADA which promote quality control in dentistry. The first was written by James Bader DDS and appeared in the December 2009 edition of the JADA titled “Challenges in quality assessment of dental care.”

http://jada.ada.org/cgi/content/full/140/12/1456  

Quality Control 

The second commentary concerning quality control was written by Editor Michael Glick DMD titled ““When good may not be good enough — The need for clinical performance measures in dentistry.” (I’m no longer able to access JADA online).

EBD 

HIT stakeholders Bader and Glick, who are both fervent supporters of Evidence Based Dentistry as well as paperless dental practices, carefully tiptoe around what looks to me like an oppressive, micromanaged future for dentists. They both argue what must be a desperate committee-approved talking point – that quality assessment is critically important for ADA members so that fully-licensed dentists will have digital, Evidence-Based proof that their care is better than dental therapists’ who work for much less money.

Are ADA leaders sitting around a big table in ADA Headquarters when they think up this crap?

In addition, the cloistered committee concludes that patients’ opinions of their dentists is too difficult to collect and less reliable than algorithms based on dental claims and other data provided by the ICD-10 (?).

In fact, Dr. Bader is so confident in Evidence-Based digital results, he dismisses the need for any patient involvement in quality assessment: “Patient satisfaction has been shown to be associated only weakly with other assessments of quality of care, which means that it cannot be used as a surrogate for measures of technical quality.” Try telling that to a formerly satisfied dental patient who suddenly must pick his or her next dentist from a “preferred” provider list of strangers.

Assessment 

You mean like Ingenix’s measures of technical quality, Dr. Bader? In 2008, NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo spanked the UnitedHealth subsidiary for selling algorithmic excuses to insurers to be used to cheat out-of-network physicians.

Conclusion

If you are a small business owner who reasonably asks to be paid no more and no less than what one is owed as quickly as possible – if not immediately like all other businesses in the land of the free – I’m pretty sure Sullivan’s 7 pearls intended to make ICD-10 more urgent for doctors will light up the lobes again. And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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