February is a busy month for healthcare providers. While many practices are focused on meeting the PQRS submission deadline and successfully achieving Meaningful Use attestation, it’s also important to keep in mind that the ICD-10 implementation deadline of October 1, 2015 is fast approaching. There are no further delays in sight for the transition to this new baseline for clinical data, clinical documentation, claims processing, and public health reporting.
The best way to get started is to get started! Practices need to evaluate their current systems and workflows that currently use ICD-9 codes, as that’s where ICD-10 is going to appear. This evaluation should include reviews of clinical documentation, encounter forms, and quality and public health reporting, so there is an understanding as to how they will be impacted and the changes that need to be made.
Other tips to tackle the implementation of ICD-10 include:
- Evaluate staff and provider training needs, and develop a training plan based on their level of involvement in the ICD-10 coding process. This will depend upon team members’ roles and responsibilities, and is typically organized into three categories: 1) Documentation training; 2) Coding training; and 3) Overview training. CMS recommends that training should occur six to nine months prior to the 10/1 implementation deadline, so if you haven’t started the process yet, NOW is the time to start.
- Consider the budget for time and cost of training, along with additional resources, software upgrades and a minimum 3-month cash reserve to handle unforeseen payment delays and/or decreased productivity.
- Confirm with your practice management and EHR software vendor(s) that their systems can accommodate ICD-10 codes. If they do not, inquire as to the expected date of delivery for the system upgrade. It’s also important to know your maintenance contract with your provider to ascertain if software upgrades are included under contract, or if this will be an additional expense for the practice.
- Communicate proactively with your clearinghouse, billing service, and payers to ensure that their systems will be ready for the transition to ICD-10 coding. It’s a good idea to coordinate ICD-10 testing with these partners, conducting tests when they test to assist in a smooth transition.
This is a huge evolution for the healthcare industry that will undoubtedly become more stressful as the deadline looms for practices that do not plan and prepare. There are more great ICD-10 resources for providers that can be found on the CMS website,www.roadto10.org. If you have additional questions, please contact your KB Healthcare Consulting Senior Medical Consultant, Johna Kennedy-Preston, CPC, at (941) 953-7451 ext. 1423 or