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Claims and Coding

Five steps to avoid ICD-10 stress

To keep from being overwhelmed by ICD-10 preparations, organizations should take manageable steps toward the end goal, and start planning for and working on the effort now.

By Ken Bradley H

eadlines over the past several months have touted the sheer magnitude of the ICD-10 implementation, causing some practices to worry about whether a successful transition is even possible. Compounding these concerns, the deadline for implementation may shift as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reevaluates the original Oct. 1, 2013 compliance date.

Given practices’ apprehension and the lack of a clear dead- line, it may be tempting to put off thinking about ICD-10 until the implementation timeframe becomes more defi nite. However, procrastinating may not be wise. Putting off until tomorrow what can be started today will likely only cause more stress and anxiety. Regardless of the fi nal implemen- tation deadline, it will occur, and practices must be ready when it does. To avoid being overwhelmed by ICD-10 preparations, all organizations should take manageable steps toward the end goal, and should start planning for and working on the effort now. Following are fi ve specifi c ways practices can prepare for ICD-10 to avoid the stress and anxiety of a last-minute rush to the fi nish.

Before getting too far into implementation, practices may want to talk with their staff members to get a sense of whether they will be resistant to change or embrace the effort, pick up new things quickly or require repeated training opportunities.

1. Examine existing documentation and coding. To code successfully using ICD-10, detailed documentation of patient visits must exist. Examining the specifi city of current docu- mentation can help a practice determine whether its level of detail is suffi cient. Performing this review now allows plenty of time to educate physicians on the need for further detail

10 July 2012

and supports them in their efforts to enhance documentation appropriately.

This kind of assessment will not only assist with ICD-10 coding in the future, it will also benefi t the practice today. Tightening up documentation ensures physicians capture all pertinent information from a patient visit, which in turn yields more accurate coding, avoids undercoding and prevents inadvertently leaving money on the table. 2. Understand the unique scope of a practice’s ICD-10

efforts. A large-scale project becomes less daunting if one truly understands its scope. Since the nature and complex- ity of ICD-10 implementation will vary depending on the practice, it is helpful for practices to identify the parameters of their particular ICD-10 endeavor. A simple way to do this is by documenting all of the places where diagnosis codes are currently used, such as in billing programs, superbills, contracts, reports and so forth.

Documentation does not have to be fancy. In fact, using a spreadsheet program to list where diagnosis codes are used, who is using them and how they are being used can help practices start to quantify what needs to be changed and what specifi c efforts will be involved in the change. For example, a running list can provide insight into how much ICD-10 train- ing practice staff will require, as well as the level of training complexity and detail staff will need. Although the prospect of using a code set that has more than 100,000 codes may seem daunting, it is important to remember that practices most likely will not use every ICD-10 code. Just as most practices do not currently use all 17,000 ICD-9 codes on a regular basis, the same will likely be true with ICD-10. 3. Get a sense of coding staff’s attitudes toward ICD-10. Although a successful implementation will require commit- ment and buy-in from all practice staff, coding staff probably will be most affected by the transition. These individuals will require signifi cant education and training in order to change the way they code. Regardless the job title, however, adjust- ing to a new way of working may be harder for some staff members than others.

Before getting too far into implementation, practices may HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY

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