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Medicare Taps 3M For ICD-10 Conversion

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services licenses 3M software to help translate old ICD-9 codes to the much more specific ICD-10 labels.

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3M, which originally designed the ICD-10 Procedure Coding System, will help the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) prep its computer systems for ICD-10 coding.

3M said that CMS has licensed the St. Paul, Minn.-based company's ICD-10 Code Translation Tool software to help with the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 coding. CMS also has secured software licenses for Medicare fiscal intermediaries, Medicare administrative contractors, and other entities that serve as healthcare provider liaisons to CMS.

ICD-10 coding becomes mandatory for the Medicare and Medicaid programs on Oct. 1, 2013.

The contract is worth about $400,000, according to Richard Averill, senior VP for clinical and economic research at 3M Health Information Systems, the health IT division of 3M. The federal government's USAspending.gov site that details government spending has not posted data on the contract.

Averill said the Web-based Code Translation Tool software will help CMS automate the process of converting many of its information systems to process the new codes in a "native" ICD-10 format. "A big decision for any entity is: Are you going to take [ICD-9] codes and translate them to [ICD-10] in the I-9 environment?" Averill told InformationWeek Healthcare. "If you do so, then you miss out on the benefits of I-10."

The ICD-10 classification system contains about five times the number of codes as ICD-9, allowing for much greater specificity in describing medical diagnoses and procedures.

Prior to this award, 3M had been helping CMS convert a handful of its computer systems to handle ICD-10 under earlier contracts, Averill said. The contractor has completed the translation of Medicare severity diagnosis-related groups (MS-DRGs), a system of classifying inpatient cases for billing purposes, and has published the official CMS General Equivalence Mappings, or "crosswalk" that explains how to translate codes.

The licensing will allow CMS and its contractors to automate the work for many other systems, according to Averill. "This is part of a large process," he said.

Averill likened the Code Translation Tool to a productivity tool like Microsoft Excel that simplifies the application of formulas. "What Excel is to spreadsheets, CTT is to I-10," he said.

3M designed the ICD-10 Procedure Coding System in the 1990s under a series of contracts with the Health Care Financing Agency, the former name of CMS.

Find out how health IT leaders are dealing with the industry's pain points, from allowing unfettered patient data access to sharing electronic records. Also in the new, all-digital issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: There needs to be better e-communication between technologists and clinicians. Download the issue now. (Free registration required.)

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