Radiology Coding Changes in 2016

Medical Coding Radiology

One of the biggest challenges any radiology practice faces is accurate coding. The right coding procedures can make the difference between a smooth revenue cycle and quick reimbursements, and a drawn-out process that costs the clinic money and leads to delays in reimbursements. The adoption of ICD-10 codes led to changes in radiology coding. At Healthcare Information Services, our number-one priority is to assist your hospital or clinic in dealing with coding changes to maintain a healthy bottom line.

Radiology Coding Changes in 2015

2015 brought about the introduction, after several delays, of the International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision. More commonly referred to as ICD-10, the adoption of this new coding system brought American healthcare on par with other advanced Western nations. Effective October 1, 2015, healthcare facilities are required to use ICD-10 coding standards for all submissions or risk not receiving reimbursements.

There were an astounding 502 changes in radiology coding in 2015, including the addition of 226 new codes, 147 deleted codes, and 129 codes that were revised. Diagnostic Radiology saw fewer changes, with seven new codes, six revised codes, and no deletions. However, coding changes in radiology did not impact all areas of the field the same.

For example, breast imaging saw the biggest changes in radiology coding in 2015. Breast ultrasounds and tomosynthesis coding changes occurred, with the current ultrasound code deleted and split into two codes to represent both complete and limited exams under separate codes.

Myelography also saw coding changes, with two myelogram injection codes revised and four new comprehensive codes established. The moves in this case were largely done to remove redundancy in radiology codes.

Important Coding Changes coming in 2016

2016 is a new year, and with it come new changes in radiology coding that your medical facility should be aware of to continue a smooth transition to ICD-10. The Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) for 2016 contains a total of 361 code changes, covering a number of diagnostic, interventional, nuclear medicine, and radiation oncology procedures.

In total, there are 66 new radiology codes for 2016, 39 deleted codes, and 19 revised codes. Diagnostic radiology will have 14 additions, 10 revised codes, and 20 deleted codes this year. A more specific breakdown is featured below:

  • Radiation oncology: 5 new, 5 deleted, 3 revised.
  • Nuclear medicine: 2 new, 0 deleted, 1 revised.
  • Interventional Radiology: 31 new, 13 deleted, 5 revised
  • Nervous system: 10 new, 0 deleted, 0 revised.
  • Category III codes: 4 new, 1 deleted, 0 revised.

Looking more specifically at those diagnostic radiology coding changes, one of the biggest impacts in 2016, scoliosis studies and hip/pelvis/femur x-rays will feel the brunt of the changes. Scoliosis studies feature four new codes and numerous deletions intended to simplify and clarify the reporting of x-rays related to scoliosis, or other conditions requiring complete spine x-rays.

The latter category of hip/pelvis/femur x-rays were restructured to reflect the fact that many of these studies are reported together more than 75% of the time. Specifically, coders must now “count the views” when assigning CPT codes related to hip/pelvis/femur x-rays.

Additionally, Percutaneous Biliary Procedures and Genitourinary Procedures will experience significant changes in 2016. The former group saw numerous radiology codes deleted for 2016, with a total of 14 new comprehensive codes introduced, while the latter group had 12 new codes introduced.

Preparing to Cope with Coding Changes

Education and the right software are the best tools available to your healthcare facility for coping with coding changes. HIS offers a complete ICD-10 transition program to train your staff to deal with the new ICD-10 codes, and help you stay ahead of the coding changes for 2016 as they begin to take effect. HIS also provides certified coders that are up to date on all changes, and ready to take on the workload for your office to ensure that your revenue cycle remains intact.