Edit: ICD-10 implementation has been delayed until after Oct. 1, 2015
There are just 300 working days left until October 1, 2014. That date should ring a bell because it is the day that the tenth edition of the International Classification for Disease (ICD-10) will be put into effect. If that seems like plenty of time you are probably far behind in your preparations. Anyone who has already begun the transition can tell you that the work load is significant. If you want to catch up or stay on track with your transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10, take a few tips from the people who are already learning how to prepare for ICD-10.
How to Prepare for ICD-10
You do not have to have absolutely everything in place by next year. It is vital for your practice, though, to have the most frequently billed items ready. In particular, you should be looking at the diagnosis codes that bring in the most money.
Ask yourself some additional questions about these ICD-9 diagnostic codes. For example, are they all necessary for your practice? Should you add some to that list as you prepare for next year’s transition? How will these diagnoses be integrated into the electronic health record (EHR) next year?
The government is forcing you to engage with the electronic health record system. You will not accomplish anything by resisting this effort. Instead, you should embrace the new technology. If you cannot do so personally, assign someone on staff to become an expert in all things related to this issue.
For instance, one thing that you could learn about is the variety of smart phone apps associated with ICD-10. The convenience of these apps will soon be as apparent as banking apps, games and music downloads.
It may be easy to focus too much attention on your most common diagnoses and procedures. Even if you get them all transitioned, you may still have a lot of NOS (not otherwise specified) coding. Look for areas in which your documentation is presently weak and assign someone to examine coding shifts that may impact your practice.
Assign a coder to begin doing a few charts every day in ICD-10. This should ideally be someone who has had some amount of training already in making the necessary changes. It seems like a lot of effort but you will get an early look at where documentation gaps occur. This will also allow your coders to get up close and personal with the new features found in ICD-10. This kind of hands-on training is irreplaceable.
Keep everyone in the practice in the loop. Communicate progress in this effort at every staff meeting. Remind everyone about the countdown to the transition and inform each member of the staff about any responsibilities associated with this effort.
Let ICD-10 be your friend rather than your enemy. Engage early and frequently with all of the changes involved. For every effort that you make now as you discover how to prepare for ICD-10, you will enjoy the fruits of preparation when October, 2014 rolls around.