Open Letter from AAPC’s CEO

A New Date

As many of you know, CMS just announced that ICD-10 will indeed be delayed one year. You can read the full announcement here. The implementation date is now set for October 1, 2014 (the same one year delay originally announced last Spring). This gives all providers a good amount of time for implementation and preparation.

A Second Chance

For those of you who have started preparations (Congratulations!), this one year delay should not interrupt your plans but you might slightly adjust your benchmarks schedule. To assist you, we’ve updated our ICD-10 Implementation Tracker to reflect the new 2014 implementation date. For those of you who have yet to begin preparing for ICD-10, you are fortunate enough to have another year to get caught up. During the past few months, we have heard much discussion regarding preparation testing. The recent switch to 5010 standards for billing highlighted the need to properly test. As a result, we have updated our benchmark tracker to recommend some testing time prior to October 1, 2014.

What You Should Be Doing Now

Where should you start? That depends on your role. If you are part of implementing the new code set in your office, facility or practice, we believe you’ll need to fully understand all the necessary steps to implement this change. AAPC has prepared special implementation boot camps that show you all the steps necessary to accomplish a full ICD-10 implementation. These 2-day boot camps are held around the country for you to attend. We will soon add more sites and provide a schedule of implementation boot camps in early 2013.

If you are a coder and you feel you might need more anatomy and pathophysiology knowledge for the increased clinical specificity requirements of the ICD-10 codes, then you should brush up on that now. AAPC’s online ICD-10-CM Anatomy and Pathophysiology training is approved for 14 CEUs and is only $149.95.

If you are a coder who only needs to learn the codes – relax for a few months. AAPC will have general ICD-10-CM code set training available online (2nd Quarter, 2013), at a Boot Camp (July, 2013), at one of seven ICD-10 Conferences held across the country (beginning January 2014), or at our 2014 National Conference (Nashville). Specialty code set training will also be available online or at one of the seven nationwide ICD-10 Conferences and our 2014 National Conference in Nashville, TN.

An ICD-10 proficiency assessment will be available from October 1, 2013 through September 30, 2015. It is required passage for all AAPC certified coders/auditors, and recommended for anyone else with coding responsibilities within their organization. It will have 75 questions, be open-book, online, and un-proctored. Coders will have two attempts at passing for a $60 administration fee. AAPC will provide an online proficiency tool (available in September 2013) to help you prepare.

What Your Provider Should Now Do

The most important thing that can be done early is to ensure the providers document sufficiently for the increased specificity in ICD-10. Many have heard the EMR systems will handle this, but we are skeptical. AAPC, through its Physician Services business can provide a low cost documentation assessment and if there are weaknesses, education and training on proper documentation can be provided early. This will help now and in the future as it prepares each physician for the changes in ICD-10. The assessment includes a preliminary assessment of 10 dates of service, a detailed report of findings, 1/2 hour of webinar or telephone training based on those assessment results and then a follow-up assessment a few months later of another 10 dates of service to measure the results. The cost is $395 per provider. View a sample report.

Additionally, AAPC will provide a 3-hour online course (by specialty) to train providers on ICD-10-CM documentation and coding. We will have one for 20 different specialties. This will be moderated by a physician expert in ICD-10 and will address physician needs and concerns in their own ways of thinking and processing. These will be available in the summer of 2013.

Reality Check

ICD-10 is a significant change, but for coders without responsibility over ICD-10 implementation, it will NOT take years to prepare nor huge dollars. Our code set trainings will be hundreds of dollars. Our conference prices will be in their normal ranges. Our help to providers is also hundreds of dollars. And for those that desire a full training solution, we’ll have ICD-10 Code Set Bundles beginning at $645 and available beginning 2nd Quarter of 2013.

We think 16-24 hours of training and some personal practice prior to October 1, 2014 may be all that is necessary. Of course, you’ll want code books and AAPC will have those at great prices. At AAPC, we want to help you learn all you need and have all the resources necessary, but not for more money or time than is necessary. We repeat, don’t learn the codes too early – you still have to apply the ICD-9 codes until October of 2014.

For more information, free resources, and help with any of the above, please visit the ICD-10 section of our website.

Best regards,

Reed E. Pew
AAPC Chairman and CEO


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