Use Social Media to Become A Better Doctor
07 Jul 2015

It’s 2015. Social Media surrounds every aspect of our lives and most doctors do not take advantage of it. It is important for doctors to begin to embrace the power of social media and use it help themselves and their patients. Facebook boasts more than a billion users, Twitter more than 120 million, and up to 80% of patients go online for health information. Engaging in the online conversation and using the tools of social media can enhance the good that can be done, for patients, for doctors, and for the profession at large.

There are five distinct benefits to considering using social media. These include:

Anything Goes: Because there are so little current opportunities for health care social media, those who pioneer and blaze the trail for others have the chance to set the stage for those who follow. Doctors can set the rules for themselves in online social media ventures.

Direct Contact: What patients really want to read is what their doctor says, not press releases, articles from barely credible sources, or pseudo-science from advertisers. As a doctor, your patients will listen to you and value your thoughts and opinions over those who are less than suitable.

Therapy Factor: Morale amongst caregivers is low, and sinking lower. Social media offers doctors a chance to reflect about what is still so good about their work. Writing, or Tweeting, or blogging, allows a doctor to consider the patient who actually lost the weight, or the family who sent you a Thank You note for having had the courage to discuss end-of-life care. The social aspect of social media connects doctors with colleagues across the world.

Become a Better Doctor: The pace of change in health care is increasing. In the course of three weeks in late 2013, two paradigms of cardiovascular medicine were upended. Social media covered the story in real time, while print journal coverage came later. Social media delivers an opportunity for discussion to a doctor’s smartphone or tablet, and staying current and informed has never been more important. Twitter allows easy curation of content from trusted sources as it comes available.

Leveling the Playing Field: The blog and Twitter feed of stage IV breast cancer patient Lisa Adams has stirred the mainstream of journalism and medicine. When writers Bill and Emma Keller, of the NY Times and the Guardian, respectively, discussed Ms. Adams poignant posts, and a torrent of criticism and conversation followed. The vastness of the response, from the New Yorker, Wired, NPR, Atlantic, The Nation, the American College of Oncology and many more outlets, removed any doubt that social media has transformed the sphere of influence.

Overall, social media gives regular doctors a voice, a chance to influence and affect change in society at large.

Learn more about social media usage and how you can take advantage of all of its opportunities here: http://medcitynews.com/2014/02/doctors-social-media-time-embrace-change/

Could Marijuana Soon be Legalized Nationwide?
07 Jul 2015

Though the national election is over one year away, 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is open to the idea of legalizing marijuana around the nation. In an online discussion at Reddit.com, Sanders commented that he would be open to legalizing marijuana use for recreational purposes nationwide. “The state of Vermont voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and I support that. I have supported the use of medical marijuana,” Sanders said.

His home state of Vermont is currently considering legislation that would decriminalize marijuana usage, and has additionally changed the drugs status from a Schedule I to Schedule II drug.

Currently, Sanders trails Hillary Clinton in the polls by an average of 57 points, but many young voters who support the legalization of marijuana might be swayed by Sanders’ opinion. “We have been engaged in [the war on drugs] for decades now with a huge cost and the destruction of a whole lot of lives of people who were never involved in any violent activities,” he told Time.

With regard to full marijuana legalization, Sanders said he will look to Colorado, where recreational marijuana is legal, to see the effects of such a policy change. Colorado was the first state to legalize the drug for recreational purposes. It’s now fully legal in four states and in Washington, D.C., though sales remain banned in the District.

Sanders has not said that he fully supports nationwide legalization and has stated on the record that he has used the drug in the past, but that it is not his thing. “It’s not my thing, but it is the thing of a whole lot of people. And if you want to make the argument that maybe marijuana is less harmful to health than tobacco, I think you’d probably be making a correct argument. Some may disagree but I think it’s probably true,” he said.

With the presidential primaries to take place in early 2016, Sanders has called for debates to begin this summer and said he’s looking forward to discussing the issues with his competition on both sides of the aisle.

Learn more about the move to legalize marijuana: http://www.ijreview.com/2015/05/326473-pot-use-soon-become-legal-nationwide-bernie-sanders-seems-open-idea/

Five Changes in Five Years: How the ACA has Changed the Industry
07 Jul 2015

2015 marks the fifth year of the Affordable Health Care Act. The healthcare reform law has drastically changed the climate for hospitals – and more changes are coming. Recently, PricewaterhouseCoopers released a report highlighting five major changes the law made in health care and how they’ll continue to shape hospitals’ decisions in the years to come.

1. Risk Shift

As healthcare executives know, one of the biggest changes created by healthcare reform is the shift from fee-for-service payments to value-based payment models, which means all healthcare providers now assume some of the risk if patients don’t stay healthy. Medicare recently announced that it’s working to make almost all payments contingent upon value, so this development will continue as time goes on.

Value-based care won’t only affect Medicare payments. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has pledged to work with private payors for the next few years to make sure that value-based initiatives are expanded to include third-party carrier payments as well.

Hospitals’ payments have also been affected by Medicare’s program to penalize facilities for high readmission rates. With these cuts to reimbursement, hospitals must do what they can to avoid them by evaluating the care they provide and looking for ways to improve patient outcomes.

2. Primary Care

Because the ACA places its focus on keeping patients healthy, primary care has also become more important. Insurance plans cover various preventive services in hopes that patients won’t become sick in the first place. Other healthcare providers, including hospitals, have been encouraged to take this approach with their care, so the coordination of care has become more important. Through entities such as accountable care organizations (ACOs), hospitals are working closely with primary care physicians and other providers to keep patients healthy.

Many hospitals have already entered the foray of primary care by purchasing their own physician practices. But even facilities that haven’t taken that step will need to be aware of the primary care resources available in their area so they can make recommendations to patients.

3. New Tech and Vendors

Most hospitals have an electronic health records (EHR) vendor they work with to keep their medical records digitized due to new rules implemented with the ACA and other federal initiatives. Besides EHR vendors, ACA changes have created other new business partners for hospitals to work with, many of whom shape their business models around helping patients keep track of their own health indicators.

Funding from the ACA has enabled several start-up companies to create new health technology, including “digital pills” that track patients’ conditions, apps that help fight heart disease and diabetes, and wearable devices that monitor patients’ heart rates and sleep patterns. In addition, hospitals can work with telehealth providers to follow up with patients who may have difficulty traveling to appointments on their own after discharge.

Using the technology from these vendors, hospitals can transform care delivery and boost their quality. It will be easier for facilities to monitor patients and see if their conditions really are improving once they leave the hospital and clinicians can catch small issues before they turn into significant health problems.

4. Health Insurance

Naturally, the ACA has changed the face of health insurance. Aside from the fact that payors are now focusing more on value, the plans themselves are different than they were five years ago. The industry has become more of a business than ever, with patients encouraged to shop around and find the coverage that fits their needs. The variety of insurance plans have left billing staff in hospitals scrambling to keep up with what services are covered and how much patients are responsible for paying out of pocket.

And it’s only getting more complicated going forward. With the future of exchange plans up in the air pending a Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell, changes could be even more dramatic.

But for now, expect to see patients with a variety of insurances – and to deal with their complaints if they find out their plans don’t cover as much as expected. Facilities must also be prepared to treat patients more like customers, listening to their preferences and appealing to their wallets by providing quality care at a reasonable cost.

5. State Regulations

When the ACA was first passed, states were given a large amount of leeway when it came to enforcing key points of the law, such as creating their own exchanges. This trend will continue going forward, and if King v. Burwell forbids the use of subsidies to purchase exchange plans, the landscape will shift even more. Hospitals may end up providing more charity care, depending on how their state decides to handle exchange plans after the court decision.

Since state laws regarding ACA coverage are constantly changing, hospitals have a chance to actually have an effect on the decisions lawmakers make. It may be a good idea to check with state medical associations or hospital associations to see if there are any specific lobbying outlets where you can make your voice heard on behalf of your facility’s needs.

The industry is always changing and will continue to change, so make sure you are up-to-date on your current events news. The Affordable Care Act impacts your daily work, and it’s important to stay current so that you can effectively advice your patients.

Learn more about the ACA: http://www.healthcarebusinesstech.com/aca-healthcare-trends/

 

Is Your Website Mobile?
07 Jul 2015

On February 26, 2015 Google gave marketers incredible insight into changes planned for their search algorithms and the exact day they will go into effect. Specifically, they announced that on April 21, 2015 mobile search engine results pages (SERPs) would be impacted by the mobile-friendliness of a website.

Google wants to make it easier for people using mobile devices to access websites that have been optimized for use on that device. Recently, their algorithms for mobile search have shifted to reflect this desire. You still have time to change your website to fit within these guidelines. Here are a few tips to make your website mobile-friendly.

 

  1. Consider the Patient. Think about your desired customer and the actions they are likely to perform on your mobile site. Are they there to research you or to make an appointment? Are they looking up an address or phone number on the way to your office? Mobile search now accounts for about 60 percent of online traffic to websites, and people use their devices to complete a myriad of tasks. Consider all the possible actions patients might take from a mobile device and use these ideas to guide the planning of the mobile site and the navigation menu. Navigation should be intuitive and easy to use with fingers instead of with a mouse.

 

  1. Stay local. Unless you want to encourage medical tourism, focus your efforts on reaching patients in your local area. Many doctors make the mistake of trying to reach patients who will have to travel to their practice, but when you have potential patients in your nearby area, there is no need to make patients travel a long way to find you. Instead, optimize your website using the name of your region and/or city.

 

  1. Review your site content, page by page. The message you send out to patients makes your website’s content extremely important. It is always a good idea to review your website thoroughly, in order to be certain that your site contains no duplicate pages or content. Having duplicate pages or content can cause issues with your search engine results.

 

  1. Utilize Marketing Tools. Google Analytics is an effective and useful tool that doctors can use to track the success of their own website. Google Analytics tracks how many visitors a specific website receives, and also tracks what areas of a site receive the most hits, so doctors will truly know what works for their website- and what doesn’t.

 

  1. Blogs are effective. Since the field of healthcare is constantly changing, doctors should provide patients with useful resources and informative materials. For nearly every health condition, the patient will have questions about treatment options, medications, and diagnosis of the condition. Blogs are one of the most effective ways to provide patients with accessible, high quality information. Having an effective blog will also increase visitation to the doctor’s website.

Overall, taking time to connect with your website will allow it to drive patients to your practice. Make your website search engine friendly and work with Google to make it as mobile-friendly as possible.

Learn more about how doctors can increase their SEO: http://www.mednet-tech.com/newsletter/blogs/seo-tips-for-doctors-2

Learn more about the new Google algorithms: http://searchenginewatch.com/sew/how-to/2402354/mobile-optimization-and-the-google-algorithm-change-7-steps-to-stay-friendly#

 

 

Dr. Ben Carson Takes Lead in Current Polls for Republican Primary
07 Jul 2015

Dr. Ben Carson, current Republican presidential candidate, has recently beat the odds in recent polls, taking first and second place in a Quinnipiac University survey. When polled against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Dr. Carson tied for first with four other top GOP with 10 percent of the vote nationally.

He tied Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for second in a Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa poll reaching 10 percent of the vote among likely caucus-goers in that state. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leads Carson and Paul with 17 percent in that poll.

Dr. Carson attributes his campaign message – “We The People” – to his success in the polls. “Our campaign based on “We The People” is catching fire all across this great country,” Carson says. “The Washington political class is starting to panic. It will not be long until they start attacking us.”

His political stances include balancing the budget, keeping open Guantanamo Bay, decentralizing the educational system, and repealing the Affordable Healthcare Act. In late May, he won the straw poll at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference on Saturday, demonstrating his popularity among conservative activists at one of the party’s traditional presidential events.

The Real Clear Politics average shows Carson in fourth place among fellow GOP presidential contenders. He follows former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Learn more about Ben Carson and the upcoming election: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/02/dr-ben-carson-beats-the-odds-in-recent-polls-taking-first-and-second-place

 

Physician Recommendation Leads to Patient Weight Loss
07 Jul 2015

Patients who have received recommendations from their doctors to lose weight are more likely to take those suggestions seriously and lose the weight. New research from the University of Georgia, published in the journal Economics and Human Biology, indicates that patients whose physicians have recommended weight loss succeed more often than patients whose physicians have not advised weight loss.

The study used a national data set from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and author Joshua Berning found that physician advice was associated with a reported 10-pound loss for women and a 12-pound loss for men over a one-year period. The study didn’t show that getting weight loss counsel from your doctor would definitively lead to weight loss, but advice from a physician was linked to greater odds of weight loss.

In 2010, more than 78 million U.S. adults and roughly 12.5 million children and adolescents were obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the rate is rising. According to a recent analysis by Gallup Healthways, the adult obesity rate in 2013 was 27.2%, up from 26.2% in 2012, and it is on pace to surpass all annual average obesity rates since Gallup-Healthways began tracking it in 2008.

“People often gain weight as they age,” Berning said. “The recommendation of weight loss mitigated weight gain more than it facilitated weight loss.” Physicians are able to put a person’s health into context by looking at factors beyond just weight or body mass index. Health care providers can assess multiple components, such as diet, exercise and medical history, to determine if a patient is at risk for obesity.

A similar study from the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine examined the strategies doctors use to talk to patients about their weight loss. The study indicated that while physicians see an estimated 25% of the US population every month, and overweight patients represent approximately 60% of this patient population, patients who report receiving physician counseling about weight loss are up to two times more likely to report that they are currently trying to lose weight.

The impact direct communication can have on obesity is powerful and the solution sounds easy enough. The problem Berning found is that many “physicians often don’t take the time to consult patients about being overweight. They need to take the opportunity to interact with their patients. Through an open dialogue, patients can find solutions to their health issues, especially in terms of obesity.”

Commercial weight-loss programs are for profit, and they can be prohibitively expensive. Health care provider advice is more affordable and achievable for a wider population. Doctors can identify obesity problems earlier on and build long-term relationships with their patients.

Sometimes the best advice is advice that is hard to hear. The weight loss discussion can be uncomfortable for both the physician and the patient. As a result, this necessary conversation is often avoided during a doctor’s appointment. However, this study shows that, while awkward, the recommendation can lead to promising results.

Learn more about the study here: http://www.oconeeenterprise.com/lifestyles/article_1ff1bc88-de03-11e4-a1ea-d78bbe59079e.html

 

Genetics Link Height to Heart Disease
04 May 2015

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published research linking height and coronary artery disease through the study of genetics. Doctors have known since the 1950s about the link between short stature and coronary artery disease, “but the reason behind this really hasn’t been completely clear,” said Nilesh Samani, a cardiologist at the University of Leicester in the U.K.

Samani and his colleagues looked at the genes of nearly 200,000 people, “and we found a very striking relationship,” Samani said. “We’ve been rather simplistic in our view of what causes coronary artery disease. We thought about traditional risk factors and then genes that might cause coronary disease. But what the study highlights is that developmental processes are going on that probably have an influence on height, and they probably also have an influence on blood vessels of the heart in a way that predisposes you to getting coronary artery disease.”

The challenge now is to ferret out the actual genetic variations that underlie both height and heart disease. “Eventually, of course, there may be some treatments that could emerge from this, but I wouldn’t want to say that’s a short-term possibility,” Samani said.

For someone 2.5 inches shorter than average, the risk of coronary artery disease increases by about 13.5 percent. And the shorter you are, the larger the effect; however, the risk is much smaller than the risk posed by smoking or high cholesterol. Most of the height genes had no obvious connection to heart disease, though a few of them did, such as a trait related to LDL cholesterol and another that influences triglycerides. Those account for less than a third of the effect, leaving the root cause of this link mainly a mystery.

The study also found that people who had more of the height-increasing genetic markers were at lower risk for coronary artery disease. People who had the most height-increasing genetic markers were 26 percent less likely to have coronary artery disease than those with the fewest height-increasing genetic markers.

Shared biologic processes that determine achieved height and the development of atherosclerosis may explain some of the association, notes the study. “We observed significant associations only with levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides, accounting for approximately thirty percent of the association,” researches said.

David Goldstein, Director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Columbia University is enthusiastic about the opportunities the study brings to the medical community. “As we begin to systematically characterize the genetic bases of these traits, it’s going to open up a whole bunch of brand new windows into biology,” Goldstein says. “And that’s really what I find exciting.”

The study of height and heart disease is also a reminder that traits are usually the result of many different genes acting in concert, so it’s not so simple to alter these traits, for example, to treat or prevent disease.

One major problem with the study is that it looked mostly at white males. With an increase in the diversity of subjects, perhaps scientists could have a better understanding of these genetic traits and markers.

Study Shows Most Doctors Get Positive Online Ratings
04 May 2015

The Internet is usually a place for anonymous negative comments and reviews, but new research has shown that most healthcare consumers consistently give their physicians high marks on the Internet. Vanguard Communications, a 20-year-old Denver marketing and public relations firm specializing in healthcare, developed special software to analyze Yelp.com and Google+ reviews of doctors, group medical practices, clinics and hospitals.

The software searched ratings of over 46,300 providers in the nation’s 100 largest cities and found that 56.8 percent of physicians get four stars or better. At the other end of the satisfaction scale, only one in eight doctors (12.1 percent) gets an average of less than two stars. More than three out of four (77.3 percent) earn three stars or better.

“From our findings, it appears that doctors tend to get much better reviews than hotels, restaurants and retail businesses,” said Vanguard CEO Ron Harman King. “While some doctors indisputably suffer from unjust online comments, our snapshot of American healthcare providers indicates doctors in general enjoy widespread respect and gratitude from patients.”

Patients in San Francisco and Oakland appear to be happiest with their doctors, while the least satisfied American healthcare consumers live in other California cities as well as in New York State locales, the study also revealed.

A similar 2013 study conducted by Vanguard revealed that unhappy patients most often complain about poor customer service and bedside manner four times more often than citing misdiagnoses and inadequate medical skills as cause for their dissatisfaction. The biggest source of complaints was perceived doctor indifference and bedside manner. 43.1 percent of the critics said their annoyance was because the doctor was rushed, late for the scheduled appointment, did not listen well or was otherwise dismissive of their concerns.

As medical consumers increasingly turn to physician rating sites to shop for healthcare providers, anxiety in the medical community is growing over online reviews, with some doctors suing their patients over Internet comments. Nevertheless, a recent study reports that among patients who utilize physician-review websites, 35 percent have selected doctors based on good reviews, while 37 percent avoided doctors based on bad reviews. Prior studies have shown that few physicians are reviewed on rating sites, however, an analysis of one rating site indicated that between 2005 and 2010 there was an increase in the number of physicians rated and the number of ratings per physician.

Now doctors can be satisfied that their patients are treating them well in online reviews.

Diabetes Testing at the Dentist’s Office
04 May 2015

According to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health in February, a visit to the dentist could be another opportunity to screen patients for diabetes. Doctors found that using gingival crevicular blood for hemoglobin A1c testing produced results nearly identical to those obtained using finger stick blood, the test generally used to diagnose diabetes.

“In light of findings from the study, the dental visit could be a useful opportunity to conduct diabetes screening among at-risk, undiagnosed patients — an important first step in identifying those who need further testing to determine their diabetes status,” Shiela Strauss, PhD, MA, BS, the study’s principal investigator and co-director of the Statistics and Data Management Core for NYU’s Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing, said.

The study, called “The Potential for Glycemic Control Monitoring and Screening for Diabetes at Dental Visits Using Oral Blood,” adds to the previous research that has considered the acceptability to use oral blood to screen for the disease. Dental visits could be potential opportunities for diabetes screening and monitoring glucose control, researchers said. Although many Americans visit their dental providers annually, they might not be seeing primary care providers as frequently. Patients who are at least 45 and older could particularly benefit from this type of screening.

The study included 408 adults with or at risk for diabetes and performed hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) tests on dried blood samples of gingival crevicular blood and compared these with paired gold-standard HbA1c tests with dried finger-stick blood samples. They also examined differences in sociodemographics and diabetes-related risk and healthcare characteristics for three groups of at-risk patients.

Researchers estimate 8.1 million of the 29.1 million Americans living with diabetes are undiagnosed, with many who have diabetes also having inadequate glycemic control. One out of 3 adults has prediabetes, according to the CDC. Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, the CDC states, 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes in five years.

“Our study has considerable public health significance because we identify the value and importance of capitalizing on an opportunity at the dental visit (a) to screen at-risk, but as yet undiagnosed patients for diabetes (especially those 45 years or older), and (b) to monitor glycemic control in those already diagnosed so as to enable them to maintain their health to the greatest extent possible,” Strauss said.

Study recruitment, participation, and data collection took place in the comprehensive care clinics at the New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) from June 2013 to April 2014 and funding for this study was provided by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

The ICD-10 Compliance Deadline has been set as October 1, 2015 due to a regulation that was published by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on August 4, 2014. What does this mean for physicians and general medical staff members all over the world? This means that they will need to adjust to new sets of codes and classifications if they are to advance in their medical careers. The compliance deadline is mandatory and all medical staffs will need to get familiar with ICD-10.

The introduction to ICD-10 was signed into law on April 1, 2014 as part of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014. ICD-10 is an abbreviation for the 10th Revision for International Classification of Diseases and there are core ICD skills that physicians need to have in order to function in the hospital. These core skills include having exceptional knowledge of anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology and pathophysiology. Physicians must also be knowledgeable of the necessary procedures and the scientific applications relating to biomedical situations and clinical medicine.

There are some useful steps physicians should take that will aid groups such as the Clinical Documentation Improvement Team and all of these steps are practical. One step doctors should take when adjusting to ICD-10 would be to have proper awareness of the new system. Doctors must be able to memorize the new concepts, requirements and codes that will come with ICD-10. There are significant differences when comparing ICD-10 and its predecessor ICD-9. Considering that ICD-10 is the latest revision, there have been significant changes made to the overall format that doctors will have to adapt to.

Various groups and supporters of ICD-10 training provide bold solutions and the signs have been apparent that there is a need to make the transition to the new classification system. There are several new kinds of codes with ICD-10 that will make clinical documentation and general coding much more complex than the current ICD-9 system and doctors are recommended to start memorizing every notable detail of this new system to understand the updated terminology.

Another step physicians should take when preparing for ICD-10 would be to remain knowledgeable of the existing coding practices in clinical documentation. While ICD-10 will be officially implemented on October 1, 2015, medical staff members will, still be required to use ICD-9 until September 30, 2015, meaning that this current period of time would be most beneficial for the staff to compare the differences between ICD-9 and ICD-10. This studying process will help the staff better understand what they need to do when they submit reports going forward.

The President of the American Medical Association Steven. J. Stack had this to say. “The AMA has long considered ICD-10 to be a massive unfunded mandate that comes at a time when physicians are trying to meet several other technology requirements and risk penalties if they fail to do so.”

Another step for physicians to take would be to enhance communications and planning for ICD-10 training. Physicians need to be in the right mindset when they prepare for revisions such as ICD-10 and conducting simulations of applied ICD-10 schedules beforehand would be ideal. Establishing a routine of applying ICD-10 terminology ahead of the time of its actual implementation would give physicians an advantage in preparation. A smooth transition to this new system heavily depends on the initial steps that are taken, such as matching the solutions based on the needs of the organization.

When dealing with an important transition such as this, communication becomes more important than ever. Talking to practice management or a software vendor would help physicians since they need to know when software updates will be completed for the newly installed system. Talking to clearinghouses, billing service and payers would also help physicians because it needs to be determined when these parties complete their ICD-10 upgrades so that physicians can test with them. Healthcare clearinghouses and payers are also HIPAA covered entities, so they are also required to adjust to the ICD-10 system. Internal testing and external testing with payers is vital for physicians because transactions that carry ICD-10 codes are sent to and received by the payers.

Physicians should also identify the changes they need to make to resources such as coding diagnostic tools, public health reporting tools, “super bills” and the like. It is important for physicians prioritize coders and specialists that are capable of training the rest of the team when they finish the training program. Without the proper training to go around, medical teams may fall behind schedule, which could lead to significant problems as they approach the October 1, 2015 deadline. With proper training, medical staff members will be able to adjust and collaborate more fluently to develop flexible operations in the hospital.

The notable differences between the codes used in ICD-10 and the codes used in ICD-9 include added digits. ICD-10-CM codes are designated for use in documentation diagnoses. These codes are 3 to 7 characters in length and 68,000 in total, whereas with ICD-9 there are only 3 to 5 characters in codes that total up to 14,000. ICD-10-PCS are designated as procedure codes and are alphanumeric, having codes that are 7 characters long that amount to 87,000 codes. Procedure codes in ICD-9 would only have 3 to 4 characters and only amounted to 4,000 codes.

Physicians also need to know what kinds of testing are actually conducted for ICD-10. There are two procedures. One is called Acknowledge Testing where it will be determined whether or not ICD-10 coded claims will make it through Medicare’s claims processing front door. The other is called End To End Testing where claims from submission go through to the receipt of remittance advice. These tests will contain thorough-detailed information. In general terms, these procedures will affect how claims will process and be paid by Medicare with the ICD-10 codes.

One practical thing to summarize from the emergence of ICD-10 would be for physicians to focus on what really matters. The most complex and intricate parts of this new system need to be memorized and figured out first and foremost and the less important factors need to be put aside for the time being. At some point before October 1, 2015 all medical staff members should be able to get in the proper amounts of training and education on this new system because if they get familiar with how the new system works, they will be able to move along and perform their jobs at the hospital as they normally would.