5 Practical Ideas to Aid in Your ICD-10 Transition

Everyone in healthcare, who deals with coding, is keenly aware of the October 2014 deadline that is looming over the industry. Some are facing it head-on; others seem to be ignoring it, hoping it will just go away. No matter where you stand on the timeline or on your journey toward ICD-10 preparedness, here are 5 practical ideas that can help you cope with this challenge.

It goes without saying that ICD-10 will require a huge learning curve. The challenge is to face that learning curve and get-up-to-speed on the new coding — without having your revenue cycle impacted or disrupted.

1.    Create a Roadmap for Success with an ICD-10 Readiness Review

ICD-10 will require a huge change in your entire organization. This change will require a documented strategy or roadmap to ensure your compliance journey is successful. To deal with this change management process, select a person who will be in charge of your ICD-10 transition project. This person’s responsibility will be to monitor all changes that will inevitably occur before the deadline, and report these activities to the rest of your staff. This individual will also be responsible for engaging key stakeholders to convince them that ICD-10 compliance is critical to the financial health of your organization, and to ensure there is a sense of urgency within your organization to drive the necessary changes forward.

2.    Conduct a High Level Review with a Gap Assessment and Analyses

A gap assessment will help you gain an understanding of where and how ICD-10 will impact your organization. The assessment should include your people and their expertise, your business processes and your technology to determine the impact of ICD-10, enterprise-wide. Any part of your organization that will be impacted by ICD-10 such as, the programs and systems you are presently using for claims processing, analytics fraud detection, enrollment, eligibility and benefits. This gap assessment will let you know where you need to make critical process changes before the deadline falls and your revenue is impacted.

3.    Take advantage of educational opportunities.

Specialty associations, such as AHIMA, AMA, MGMA and several billing associations will be offering training programs and information. Take advantage of these opportunities. Every organization is going to need some kind of training. The learning curve, as stated previously, is going to be tremendous. Online educational programs that your staff members can access any place they have Internet availability will impact their daily productivity the least. Industry webinars sponsored by various associations will focus on specific aspects of the ICD-10 transition. Monitor the topics of these webinars and ensure your staff members attend the appropriate ones.

4.    Enlist technology to help with your transition

Finally, don’t try to do everything on your own. Enlist technology to help you on your journey. Technology is available in the form of computer-assisted coding (CAC) tools.  CAC is a proven technology that automatically derives and assigns medical codes from within clinical documentation. Many are already ICD-10-ready.

Your organizations can streamline your revenue cycle processes with CAC, while becoming increasingly more compliant with the requirements of payer and quality reporting.  These technologies can work with your electronic health record and financial systems to produce extremely accurate coding. The benefits are many and you are going to need all the help you can get. These systems don’t replace your professional coders; they just aid them and ensure improved: accuracy, compliance, productivity and consistency.

5.    Implementation and ICD-10 Compliance

The final steps in your journey to ICD-10 compliance require the implementation of your revised business processes that were uncovered during the gap assessments. This is easier said than done.  No organization can start from scratch when it comes to dealing with their legacy IT systems. You are going to have to work with the technology you have presently installed, with possibly of a few additions. You may also want to enlist outside coding help for a period of time to ensure your coders have the expertise to handle the increased workload under the new coding system. When you are satisfied your staff can do everything on its own, you can go it alone.

Using the combination of your legacy IT systems and new technologies, coupled with your new coding expertise, gained through training, and your newly implemented business processes will lead to an ICD-10 transition that will have minimal impact on your revenue cycle.