ICD-10 Charts is a free tool to aid the coding transition, but also a gift from a son to his internist father to keep his private medical practice alive.
Nitin Desai has the kind of medical practice you don't see much anymore. Desai, an internist, is the only physician in the practice in Columbus, Ga. His patients are like family; they know the staff personally and even have the doctor's cell phone number. Desai's wife, Bhavna Desai, is the practice manager, and his sons, Parth and Koosh, grew up in and around the practice, cutting the grass, helping out in the office, and developing a love for the practice of medicine that would led them both to medical school.
Sadly, increasing regulations and requirements for health information technology are making it more and more difficult to keep this kind of practice afloat. "I was under a lot of pressure to sell out to a hospital or join a group of other doctors," said Desai. "It is seriously hard to maintain a solo practice these days." Coming so soon after installing an EHR, the requirement to switch to ICD-10 was the last straw for Desai. Running a medical practice as a family business just didn't seem possible any longer.
Parth Desai, a first-year student at Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Ga., learned early about the business side of medicine. When he was just 16, health problems forced his mother to take a break from her duties as office manager. Parth stepped in to help out. His computer skills came in very handy, since neither of his parents is very computer savvy. When Parth heard about the ICD-10 transition, he knew that he could help with that, too.
Parth and his best friend, Will Pattiz, a computer programmer with experience developing training platforms and e-learning courses, built software that creates ICD-chart templates and converts codes from ICD-9 to ICD-10. For the 70 percent of codes that have one-to-one matching, conversion requires little more than the click of a button. For the 30 percent that are more complex, "You can go through and edit, fill in the codes you use, and customize as you go," Parth explained.
The pair's "ICD-10 Charts" software is quite valuable, with many practices seeking an easy way to convert to the new coding system. But Parth isn't aiming to make money from his software; he just wants to help his dad. "Dad has always helped me," he says simply.
One lesson Parth did not miss growing up in the heart of a community-focused medical practice was the imperative to help others. Parth and Pattiz have made the software available free on the Web [at www.icd10charts.com] for anyone who can use it. In addition, the Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the work of physicians practices, has stepped in to fund the project. With the foundation's support, additional free resources, including free coding training, will be available soon. "The Physicians Foundation is also helping us spread ICD-10 Charts throughout the country so that the project can benefit as many struggling practices as possible," said Parth.
Meanwhile back home, Nitin Desai says his son's software has made a noticeable difference in his practice's bottom line. "We're okay for now." And in the long run? "The chances are very high," says Desai, "that the boys will come home and join the practice."
FAMILY AFFAIR: (from left to right) Bhavna, Koosh, Parth, and Nitin Desai. Son Parth helped create ICD-10 Charts for his internist father Nitin to deal with the upcoming ICD-10 transition and now the free software is available to help other small medical practices. Photo courtesy: Parth Desai