The looming deadline for the ICD-10 transition is causing many headaches, as physicians, who are already facing financial challenges, attempt to navigate their way toward a new code set and avoid any disruptions or loss in reimbursements. The scope of this transition has overwhelmed and crippled many small- and medium-sized practices, and has led many to procrastinate. But time is running out. Come October 1, 2015, those practices who fail to submit claims using the new code sets will lose revenue, and there’s no pill or capsule that will make that pain go away.
While physicians can no longer ignore the implementation ahead of them, they can take certain steps to assess ICD-10’s impact on their documentation, workflow and technology and avoid a complete disaster.
Here are a few steps physicians can take to prepare their practice for a successful ICD-10 conversion:
Create a plan and get senior management on board
While much focus has been given to the negative aspects of ICD-10, there are many positives to upgrading a 30-year-old coding set. For instance, the new ICD-10 set offers vast improvements to coding and documentation, as well as to fraud prevention. But these benefits won’t be fully realized unless practices start planning for implementation NOW. To wait any longer would mean to ignore the fact that every aspect of how the practice is run will be affected by this migration.
It is also critical that the upgrade project gets full and ongoing support of senior management, who will play a big role in overcoming any resistance to change felt by staff and administration.
Develop clear messaging
The implementation of the new coding system will be a huge undertaking and will require an “all-hands-on-deck” approach and substantial coordination between various members of the practice as well as external business associates. A communication plan should be developed by senior management that contains clear and consistent messaging and regularly scheduled meetings between practice staff and business associates so readiness and timelines can be determined. Any changes to these initial timelines should be communicated between all parties immediately.
Perform a gap analysis
Practices will need to perform a gap analysis to be able to fully assess exactly who and what will be affected by the coding upgrade and to what degree. The analysis should thoroughly examine all operations and processes within the practice to identify whether or not they are ready to handle new data in the specified ICD-10 formats.
This initial assessment is also the time to select the benchmarks and metrics the new technology will need to support. Failure to perform this initial analysis will lead to overlooked technology requirements, inadequate workflows, and misconfiguration that may result in denied claims.
Health IT vendors should assist clients in the ICD-10 transition
Since practices will need to either upgrade or completely replace their IT systems in order to accommodate the new code set, they will have to conduct a system audit to assess whether or not their current IT vendor is positioned to meet the new requirements and timeline. Will forms and reports need to be reformatted? Does the current system have enough storage capacity to support both ICD-9 and ICD-10 during the transition? Are these upgrades included in the current contract or will there be additional costs which might greatly impact the budget? Is the vendor able to coordinate with staff to establish timelines for implementation and testing?
The ICD-10 transition involves much more than simply upgrading codes and physicians deserve all the help they can get. Vendors should assist in maintaining accuracy, improving documentation, increasing productivity, and minimizing interruptions so that physicians can adapt easily and without experiencing any major disruptions to their practice.
CureMD is making every effort to assist our clients in making as smooth a transition as possible. Our award-winning EHR solutions are Meaningful Use Stage 2 certified and come with an ICD-10 guarantee. We also understand that our clients, many of whom are small- and mid-sized practices, have already-tight budgets that will be stretched to the max with these upgrades, which is why we do not charge exorbitant licensing fees or charge for workflow-driven customization or 24/7 customer support.
Our feeling is, by providing clients with technology and support that ensures compliance with industry standards and best practices, we not only help them streamline operations and maximize returns, we offer them the same kind of pain relief they offer their patients.
If you want to know more about ICD-10 conversion and its impact on your practice, visit our ICD-10 resource center.