ICD-10: Get on Board for the Next 1000 Days

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  • February 2, 2011
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Published in Coding Edge – January 2011
Time is ticking and ICD-10 won’t stop to let you on the bus.
By Angela “Annie” Boynton, BS, RHIT, CPC, CPC-P, CPC-H, CPC-I, CCS, CCS-P
As I write this, there are just over 1,000 days until ICD-10 becomes the new standard for disease classification in the United States. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will reject any claim using ICD-9-CM codes with a date of service on or after Oct. 1, 2013. Lack of preparation could be devastating.

Ignoring ICD-10 Will Not Make It Go Away

Although there are many competing priorities right now (ARRA, HITECH, and Meaningful Use—to name a few), the longer you put off ICD-10 implementation, the harder it will be to comply with this deadline. Those who wait until the last minute to prepare for ICD-10 are risking their revenue in 2013 and beyond. The only way to mitigate these risks is to be fully compliant with ICD-10 by Oct. 1, 2013. Let’s discuss a few things you can do to get the ball rolling toward ICD-10 compliance.

Ask Not What ICD-10 Can Do for You …

By now, organizations should be finalizing impact assessments. This means that steering committees have been formed; executive buy-in has been obtained; basic education has been delivered to project teams, stakeholders, and executives; and 5010 implementation is on track.
If reading this paragraph has made you reach for the antacid (or worse), you are not alone. Recent industry surveys have suggested that as many as 52 percent of health care organizations have not begun their ICD-10 implementation planning efforts. If your organization is one of them, you need to get going―now.

Steering Committee – Who’s Driving Implementation?

Although physicians will play a crucial role in ICD-10 implementation, steering committees should include members across the breadth and depth of an organization. The steering committee should be an interdisciplinary team representing many areas of the organization. Some examples include:

  • Project managers
  • Information technology (IT)/Information systems (IS)
  • Health information management (HIM)
  • Physicians
  • Revenue cycle staff
  • Training
  • Communication
  • Vendors
  • Management
  • Coding professionals (of course)

ICD-10 Awareness: If You Build It, They Will Come

Awareness develops over time and is critical to ICD-10 implementation success. Rather than spending precious dollars creating an ICD-10 campaign, organizations would do better to build ICD-10 awareness by leveraging available resources.
Within larger organizations, these resources may include existing newsletters, internal websites, and even memos. Smaller organizations can place ICD-10 information by the water cooler, or in the lunchroom. Any size organization may conduct lunchtime learning sessions. Many vendors, payers, specialty societies, and industry organizations are providing free materials and webinars regarding ICD-10.
All entry-level communications should give basic information regarding the ICD-10 code set changes, why we must transition, a general timeframe, and potential impacts to the organization. Medical staff, coding professionals, and revenue cycle staff may require additional communication and increased training—but everyone should be aware of the basics.

Impact Assessment: An Organizational Crystal Ball

An impact assessment helps to provide an accurate picture of costs, scope, timelines, and other resources required for ICD-10 implementation. It involves careful analysis and budgetary consideration for the project’s life. In its simplest form, an impact assessment can be started by addressing a few questions: analyzing where, when, by whom, and how ICD-9 codes currently are used across the organization. More time spent conducting impact assessment equates to greater budgetary accuracy over the life of the implementation project.

ICD-10 Revolution: Change is Good!

ICD-10 is a revolutionary change to our disease classification system in the United States. Revolutions in general tend to be painful, and projects that carry the size and scope of the ICD-10 transition can cause anxiety. Open and maintain clear communication channels to help mitigate fear. Clearly define changes and expectations associated with ICD-10 implementation as early as possible. Provide constant updates when milestones are formulated and overall project plans become clear. With less than 1,000 days left, there is no time left to lose.


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