ICD-10 Transition

Are you managing a medical practice and dreading the implementation of ICD-10? Well, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that 40% of hospitals have not started ICD-10 CM training for their coding staff.

You might be putting if off because the deadline has been pushed out to October 2014, and who knows if CMS will postpone it further– or just skip altogether and implement ICD-11. But, CMS has been very firm about sticking to the 2014 date, and testing of ICD-10 begins in October of this year.
So, you might want to put together a plan and start organizing your efforts to implement these new codes now so that your cash flow remains healthy later.

1. Organize an implementation team

While these changes may more directly affect billing and coding, it’s very important to include staff members from all areas in a team organized for the purpose of streamlining implementation. The team should include physicians, nurses, billing and IT staff, as well as researchers if your practice is rather large. For smaller practices, dedicate one or two staff members to the development of implementation timelines and planning training courses.

2. Take inventory

Identify each IT application and program the change will affect, and determine who is responsible for them. Organize a transition plan consisting of key milestones and timelines for every functional area that will be affected.

3. Communicate with vendors

Early and frequent communication with your software vendors is very important. Ask your payers, coders and claim clearinghouses about how they are preparing for the transition to ICD-10. Determine what resources they plan to use and understand how that will affect the plans you have for your practice. Be sure to find out when the health care plans will accept ICD-10 coded claims and if your vendors can help to train your staff.

4. Test and assess

Start a documentation assessment to determine whether or not coders can identify correct ICD-10 codes on real-world, redacted successful claims. Identify your staff’s strengths and weaknesses and plan their continued training around them. Be careful not to start your training too early. Admin staff training should begin 9-10 months prior to the compliance date, and clinical staff should be trained only six months prior. If your staff members learn these new things earlier on, they may forget them before the go-live date.

5. Practice makes perfect

With thousands of moving pieces, it can be extremely difficult to make these kinds of transitions seamless, so start looking for equivalencies linking ICD-9 codes with ICD-10 codes. Remember, however, that very few of these match ups will be exact since there are 23,000 more diagnostic codes with ICD-10 than there were with ICD-9.

6. Train simultaneously with other transitions

ICD-10 training should not be completed separately from other programs. Working together with other objectives like Meaningful Use will save your practice time and likely reduce duplicate work efforts. For instance, the advancement of physician documentation is required to comply with both ICD-10 and Meaningful Use. Don’t wait until you have completed one project to begin the next, otherwise you may risk meeting the deadlines.

For more information about the transition to ICD-10 and other diagnostic coding changes, visit our Billing Services Page or contact MBA Medical today.