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ICD-10-CM/PCS News Archives

ICD-10 cheat sheets are valuable tools, but use them wisely

May 10, 2016:

Medical coders are highly skilled and credentialed professionals. But with the greatly expanded ICD-10-CM code set and an increased focus on productivity, even medical coders need a little help now and then. This is why ICD-10 cheat sheets can be great supplemental resources. But beware: relying too much on them can be hazardous to your records and claims.

Cheat sheets are nothing new, and they’re readily available – Optum360 offers 2016 ICD-10 Fast Finder sheets now, with next year’s versions coming in September. They highlight codes for the most commonly diagnosed conditions, signs and symptoms for each physician specialty, said Lauri Gray, Optum360 ICD-10-CM Fast Finders product manager.

“Cheat sheets are excellent tools and may enhance productivity when coding common conditions for the physician specialty,” she said.

There are sheets for most specialties, including cardiology, neurology, internal medicine, among others. Coders tend to rely on cheat sheets, Gray said, but should remember they are supplements, not replacements for books and software.

“Coders must have a good understanding of coding conventions, guidelines, and instructions that won’t be included in cheat sheets,” Gray said. “Using only a cheat sheet could result in incorrect sequencing of codes, omission of secondary codes and incorrect code assignments.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a series of ICD-10-CM tutorials prior to the Oct. 1, 2015 implementation date. CMS started with family practice and provided a list of common codes as well as documentation tips and clinical scenarios. However, because the CMS family practice resource was developed to serve multiple functions, it is 31 pages but only contains a small subset of codes commonly used by family practitioners as compared to the double-sided cheat sheets developed by most vendors.

With the transition to ICD-10, the knowledge coders must retain is continually increasing. Cheat sheets, like the software and books they supplement, are part of a larger toolbox health care organizations should keep stocked with the latest information on coding changes.

“There’s nothing wrong with utilizing ICD-10 cheat sheets as part of your daily coding work,” Gray said, “as long the limitations as well as the benefits of these common coding tools are understood.”


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