Happy New Year! Many look at the New Year as a time for new beginnings, a time for resolutions and a time for change. With 2008 firmly behind us and 2009 straight ahead, its a good time to review the coding and medical record practices that you use, and make sure that youre on track for a safe and profitable year ahead.

When Coding Abstract began a year ago, one of my objectives was to lay aside many of the myths, opinions and hearsay that surround coding medically-related office visits and procedures. The goal was simple: To teach how to code properly to mitigate any risk and to complement the care provided by demonstrating how to accurately translate the clinical standard of care into language that your medical third-party carrier would understand based upon fact, not fiction.

Rather than the single-author approach, this column employs a team of talented individuals who know coding inside and outthis keeps the column fresh and alive, and helps ensure accuracy.

For 2009, our returning team of contributors is:

David Mills, O.D., M.B.A., of Providence, R.I., is an assistant professor of ophthalmic business and management policy at New England College of Optometry. Dr. Mills also serves on the Rhode Island Board of Examiners in Optometry.

Laurie Sorrenson, O.D., is in a group practice in Austin, Texas, and is also the practice management course master at the University of Houston College of Optometry. Dr. Sorrenson lectures extensively on practice management and clinical topics.

Rebecca Wartman, O.D., is in private practice in Asheville, N.C., and is a past president of the North Carolina State Optometric Society (NCSOS). Dr. Wartman currently chairs the NCSOS Third Party Committee.

Im also pleased to announce that Joe DeLoach, O.D., has joined the Coding Abstract team. Dr. DeLoach is an extremely qualified individual who practices clinically at the Eye Institute at the University of Houston College of Optometry and instructs and lectures frequently on medical coding with areas of specialty in glaucoma and comanagement. Im very happy that hes contributing to the column and I believe youll find his expertise very helpful in your practice.

As youre aware, the topic in each Coding Abstract article is tied to the disease state featured in that months issue of Review. This year, our topics will include dry eye, comanagement, post-surgical contact lenses, lid margin disease, glaucoma, retinal imaging, diabetes, allergy, coding new technology, and an ICD-10 update.

It looks like an exciting year ahead, so now is the time to trade in your old, stale coding habits for some new coding standards. Make a resolution to attend a couple of CE events on coding and/or start a study group that shares proper coding practices and creates a secure environment to share ideas and self-audit records.

While you may think that you have a handle on coding because youve attended a coding course before, keep a couple of thoughts front and center as you enter 2009: Some very basic tenets of medical coding stay the same, but many of the rules, guidelines and regulations change frequently. And, it remains the responsibility of the eye care practitioner to understand these changes and how they can affect your coding practices.

The year 2009 promises many changes within the CPT and ICD-9 systems. There will be more than 1,000 updates, including 50 Evaluation & Management changeswhile not all are specific to optometry, you should be aware of the changes that could impact your practice.


Thanks for being a part of our success, and keep those comments coming. It is a privilege to be able to share this timely information with you on a monthly basis.

Please send your comments to CodingAbstract@gmail.com.

Vol. No: 146:01Issue: 1/15/2009