ICD-10: Dual Coding vs. Double Coding

August 16th, 2011 / By Andy Sager

As Product Marketing Manager for the 3M Coding and Reimbursement System, my job is to make sure the software truly meets the needs and expectations of coders. While researching and preparing our coding products for ICD-10, I’ve heard a lot of buzz around dual coding, but after looking into it, I’ve been surprised by the many definitions of dual coding that are out there. 

One conversation I had with an HIM professional went this way:

HIM Director: “We are going to begin dual coding first quarter of 2012.

Andy: “What do you mean by dual coding?

HIM Director: “We are planning to hire additional staff that will recode, in ICD-10, a portion of our already coded claims.

Andy: “So you will take your claims that are already coded in ICD-9 and have a different coder recode the claim from scratch in ICD-10 so you can identify the impact ICD-10 will have on your organization…

After thinking about our conversation, I realized this HIM director was describing a process that was really double coding.  This director wanted the ICD-9 coding to be independent from the ICD-10 coding.

I’ve had conversations with other customers about their desire to derive both ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes on the claim at the same time.  This falls into a dual coding definition.

So for simplicity, when describing the two different approaches, here are definitions that should help you moving forward:

Dual Coding = Dual Coding is adding both ICD-10 and ICD-9 codes simultaneously to the record

Double Coding = Double Coding is coding the record twice for two different classifications, or natively coding the record for ICD-10 after it has already been coded for ICD-9

By recommending consistent definitions for these two coding scenarios, I’m not suggesting your organization should take one approach over the other.  What these definitions should do is help standardize the discussion, so we can all clearly communicate as we transition to ICD-10 together.

Still have questions? Check out Andy Sager’s update on Dual Coding vs. Double Coding: Part 2.

Andy Sager is Product Marketing Manager for the 3M Coding and Reimbursement System.