The ICD-10 deadline is inching closer on the calendar, and there are specific medical coding challenges that lie ahead. According to Physicians Practice, primary care physicians could see an increase from 13,000 to more than 69,000 codes by the time the October deadline is set.

Needless to say, these providers will need to be prepared for the major coding changes that lie ahead. Tackling these issues now will save practices time and money once this switch occurs in the fall. Here are some key conditions with many coding changes to look out for if you work in the primary care practice, according to the source:

Depression: When ICD-9 was created there wasn't as much of a focus on mental health. However, over the years, the U.S. health care system has put more resources into tackling mental disorders, specifically depression. It makes sense, as 1 out of 20 Americans over the age of 12 reported current depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ICD-10 will now have codes that signify single episodes versus recurrent, as well as mild, moderate or severe depression.

Hypertension: Hypertension is one of the biggest cardiovascular issues facing Americans today, and it affects many systems. Because of this, ICD-10 will include codes for hypertension affecting the brain and eye vessels. Additionally, there will be codes for hypertension with or without heart disease, chronic kidney disease and secondary hypertension, among others. Tobacco use or exposure will also be included in ICD-10 codes.

Health status: In order to get more specific with code mapping, ICD-10 is planning on introducing resources related to socioeconomic or psychosocial circumstances, such as alcohol or tobacco use, a lack of exercise and high-risk sexual behavior.

Asthma: Over the past several years, the rate of asthma has been increasing. Like hypertension, there are many forms of asthma that will be more descriptive in the ICD-10 codes, such as mild intermittent, mild persistent, moderate persistent or severe persistent asthma. Additionally, there will be specific codes indicating whether or not the asthma is uncomplicated, acute or with status asthmaticus.

Diabetes: Diabetes has become a major health concern in the U.S., as many primary care physicians already know. National data from the CDC shows that from 1980 to 2011, the number of Americans with diabetes more than tripled. Such a significant public health concern requires more detailed coding, and as a result, the ICD-10 code changes will require physicians to document whether or not a patient has Type 1, Type 2, drug- or chemical-induced diabetes, as well as diabetes that stems from an underlying condition. Additionally, Physicians Practice pointed out that there will be very specific details regarding diabetes within the code sets, so physicians will need to be acutely aware of these shifts. 

With something as big as ICD-10 on the calendar, primary care physicians need to have all available options to ensure that code sets are up-to-date and functional. With medical billing outsourcing, physicians can relax and let the software take care of the administrative side of things so that they can focus on delivering quality care to their patients.