Code Updates Are Like Birthday Presents

by Lynn Kuehn, MS, RHIA, CCS-P, FAHIMA

Code updates are like birthday presents; we never know what we’ll receive. We know what we asked for and what we hope will arrive, but we’re never sure. And whatever we receive, we have to try them on and figure out how to make them work.

Code changes are the yearly present all coders look forward to. The Coordination and Maintenance Committee considers many proposals every year but we do not know what changes, improvements, and other modifications to the codes and the guidelines will be approved. As of today, we know the ICD-10-PCS “gifts” for FY2021 but we don’t know the ICD-10-CM gifts. That’s understandable, considering the staff at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who manage ICD-10-CM have a lot of things on their minds lately.

While we wait (im)patiently for the gifts from the CDC, let’s highlight what we did receive from CMS for ICD-10-PCS for FY2021. A variety of things arrived, including

  • Codes to fix a few vascular issues.
  • New codes for interesting procedures that include some new device values in both medical and surgical section and in the new technology section.
  • A way to code two new transplants.
  • A new imaging modality.
  • Updates to devices to help with brachytherapy coding.
  • Two new guidelines.
  • Updates to two current guidelines.

Codes change every year. The updates to the coding systems keep us on our toes and coders take seriously their obligation to thoroughly understand what the changes are, how the changes impact their organization, and who else within the organization needs to be brought up-to-speed. Preparing for these changes takes time. There are great resources available that can make the process a little more stream-lined. (To be notified when Libman Education’s FY2021 updates are available, click here.)

I can’t wait to see what the CDC will send us for October 1st this year!


Find out What is New!  FY 2021 Code Updates 
Libman Education’s 2021 ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS Code Updates are slated for an August release; the 2021 CPT Code Update will be available in November.  To be notified when the 2021 updates are available, click here.

About the Author

Lynn Kuehn is president of Kuehn Consulting, LLC, and a nationally recognized authority on ICD-10-PCS coding. Lynn was elected to the AHIMA Board of Directors, served as faculty for the original ICD-10 “Train-the-Trainers” program, and authored or co-authored several of AHIMA’s most popular books including ICD-10-PCS: An Applied Approach, recognized as the “go-to” resource for learning and mastering ICD-10-PCS. As a Subject Matter Expert with Libman Education, Lynn’s unique and engaging teaching methods as well as her leadership on the importance of accuracy and efficiency in coding is recognized by clients and students throughout the country.

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