How physician documentation and coding can combat the opioid crisis – Medical Economics

by | Sep 28, 2022 | Financial

More than 10 million people misuse opioids every year, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics. Overdose deaths involving opioids increased 519.38% from 1999 to 2019. These and similarly alarming statistics are why the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officially declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in 2017.More recently, HHS announced it will provide nearly $1.5 billion to states and territories to help address the opioid epidemic. The grant funding opportunity will be available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published updated draft guidance on when to initiate opioid prescribing, selection and dosage, duration and follow-up, and assessing risks and addressing harm.It’s all part of an effort to support physicians in the quest to help patients struggling with opioid use disorder. At the heart of these efforts? Coded data.“The coded data drives public policy,” says Toni Elhoms, CCS, CPC, CPMA, CRC, chief executive officer at Alpha Coding Experts, LLC in Orlando, FL. “It drives the SAMHSA funding. It’s all connected to the resources that are going to be provided to patients. It’s critical for physicians to code to the highest level of specificity.”Jaci J. Kipreos, CPC, CPMA, CEO of Practice Integrity, LLC in San Diego, in agrees. “We need to raise awareness of the importance of the data,” she says. “Primary care physicians are truly the gatekeepers and can help identify the scope of this problem. The data they report is critical.”Experts agree that when it comes to combatting the opioid, physicians need to shift their mindset and start focusing on data integrity. It starts by addressing the following common myths:‘ICD-10-CM codes don’t affect my reimbursement.’Not true, experts say. For exam …

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