Many Predict ICD-10 will Drive the Demise of the Paper Superbill

If your medical group still relies on paper superbills, like 54% of physician practices recently reported, what does that mean come October 1, 2015? Will the transition to the more complex and greater number of ICD-10 codes make all paper superbills a thing of the past?

Some predict yes. The simplicity of the traditional superbill — which allows providers to check off the most common ICD-9 codes quickly on one sheet of paper — gets more complicated quickly with ICD-10 codes. One estimate reported by Government Health IT is ICD-10 code specificity could take almost 5 times more space on a page – meaning the front and back of a paper superbill becomes 9 – 10 pages after October 1st. This complexity alone might prompt many practices to drop their paper superbills.

Paper Extinction?

Other experts are convinced — expecting that ICD-10 will drive all practices still using paper to switch to an EHR system and electronic superbills. “The paper superbill is one of the most productive and widely adopted tools in medical practices in the past 30 years…and it will become extinct on October 1, 2015.

“It’s no surprise that electronic superbills are something to be excited about,” says Linda Martien, CPC, CPC-H, CPMA. In her post for the American Academy of Coding Professionals, she argues that electronic superbills reduce a lot of the human error inherent in paper forms. Coding becomes more accurate, she adds, because electronic superbills are designed to save money, time and labor for medical groups.

More Efficient = More Revenue?

A remaining question is: Will paperless superbills mean more money for you? It’s no surprise that coding and EHRs make sense together – proper coding with an EHR means a proper superbill.

EHR templates and superbills provide the platform necessary for the daily use of codes, so it’s important they’re properly implemented for EHR coding to function properly. And being able to indicate the services you’ve provided quickly and efficiently with electronic superbills inevitably translates to financial gain.

And speaking of financial gain, automating charge capture via your EHR leads to more accurate, higher levels of E&M coding. Your EHR may automatically suggest codes at the time of the patient encounter, based upon the content present in the physician’s patient progress note. No more worrying about undercharging as a result of unclear or unnecessarily confusing superbills.

And with ICD-10 code descriptions sometimes taking up significant space on a standard letter-sized form, printing fractions of superbills will be tedious and time-consuming. Multiple page encounter forms are impractical and costly, leading some to believe ICD-10 will make the superbill obsolete. But for most, the logical choice lies in converting to an EHR.

Ahmed Mori contributed to this post.

Have you made the shift to electronic superbills? Share your experience below.