Don't procrastinate, ICD-10 will be here sooner than you expect.

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  • January 14, 2011
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In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today”
We just started 2011, so it is fair to say, that October 2013 sounds pretty far away. There may be plenty of time to educate your coding staff regarding the details of the ICD-10 code set (actually, this project shouldn’t be started until the code freeze after October 2012), but is it enough time for providers to change their ingrained documentation habits?
Providers are trained to approach patient care using an organized format of assessment and documentation. By keeping with a methodical format, providers ensure the accuracy of their documentation and avoid missing an important piece of information. Providers develop a habit of documenting the events of a patient encounter in the same order.  It is for this very reason, that telling a provider to change the way they have been documenting their assessments may need to change might take some convincing..and some time.
Change is the only constant in life and how one reacts to change varies. ICD-10 is coming and it is going to happen, whether your providers are ready or not. Preparing your provider staff for this change is vital to the success of any organization.
There are many different approaches to changing a habit, but like the stages of grief, there are stages to the acceptance of change.


In order for providers to adopt a new habit, then they need to make a commitment to the change. Providers need to understand that their actions are just as important as the actions of the billing office staff. If providers assume that someone in the business office will take care of that ICD-10 stuff, then they are ignorant of the active role they need to play in making the transition to ICD-10.
Providers will be more willing to commit to change if they have a clear understanding of the overall impact of ICD-10. Educating providers regarding the financial impact of incomplete or nonspecific assessments will hopefully gain their commitment to overall success of the ICD-10 transition.


After achieving provider commitment and support, the next step will be to monitor how well the providers are keeping to that commitment.  You will need to monitor the provider’s documentation through audits to determine if their documentation supports ICD-10 requirements. Set up a feedback system to let providers know how they are doing. It can be as simple as auditing one note a week, comparing the assessment using both ICD-9 and ICD-10 guidelines, and sending an email or interoffice message to the provider. It will be important for providers to see the weekly ‘grade’ of their overall progress.


If the provider’s documentation falls short of the mark, it would be simple to note the fact without reproach, but this wouldn’t ensure positive change. Offering provider’s suggestions or recommendations to improving their documentation, showing them you are just as committed to their success, will be critical to a successful transition to ICD-10. This is not a time to put off till tomorrow what could be done today, as procrastination will have it’s consequences. Practice, practice, practice…and then monitor again, and keep monitoring and practicing until compliant.
Remember that success in changing any habit has a lot to do with persistence. Your commitment and perserverance will ensure provider’s progress in their commitment to change.
Kerin Draak


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