What’s Your ICD-10 Game Plan?

Recently the news was released that CMS was going to replace the 30-year-old ICD-9 code set with ICD-10, and even though we have an October 1, 2013 deadline it is not too soon to start preparing.  Topping off the necessary steps to ICD-10 conversion is the implementation of a new 5010 security set that begins on January 1, 2012.

It is definitely too early to start learning the 68,000 ICD-10 codes, but now is the time to jump start your implementation efforts. With proper planning and training you can have a much smoother transition.

ICD-10 will allow for further benchmarking and better diagnostics of patient illness and diseases. Most other countries have already made the migration to ICD-10 long ago leaving us as one of the few who have not.

So What’s the Problem?

In addition to the implementation of new codes we need to also learn a whole new system. There will be security and software issues that must be addressed with vendors. Practices utilizing paper encounter forms may be forced into going electronic as there will not be enough room to list diagnosis code options.

Instead of 3 to 5 digits we will have up to 7 digits of specificity, hence the need to speak with software vendors now. If you are a small practice that normally performs IT projects on your own, you may need to look towards outside help for a venture this large.

In addition, if proper attention and training is not given to successful implementation you may experience cash flow issues trying to get caught up and compliant. You must work with all of the carriers that you currently contract to make sure that they are on track and ready for the change.

Time has been given for proper implementation, and it is our duty to use that time wisely. Do not procrastinate; this change will affect almost every aspect of your practice or facility. Make plans to include representation from the following groups of people adjusted for your facility size:

  1. Providers
  2. Clinical
  3. Coding
  4. Billing
  5. Finance
  6. Administration
  7. IT
  8. Compliance

Keep in mind that good communications will be extremely beneficial to ensure smooth transition and keep it flowing in a positive direction. Look for reputable sources for your trainings; do not be lured in by companies charging lucrative fees. Budget wisely to maintain and sustain, and look wisely for your resources.


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2 Responses to “What’s Your ICD-10 Game Plan?”

  1. Kimberly Crear, CPC, CEMC says:

    The latest news is that every certified coder must take and pass a proficiency exam on ICD-10 to maintain current certification(s). This would be an open book, on-line, timed exam consisting of 75 questions. The cost of the exam will be $60.00 with 1 free retake. The effective date is scheduled to begin October 1, 2012 and will end September 30, 2014.

    But some questions that have not been answered are:

    If you’re not currently certified when this begins, would you take the CPC, CPC-H or CPC-P exam and ICD-10 exam?
    How much time will be allowed to complete the exam?
    Would the exam be in the convenience of your own home or at a testing site?
    Would there be a set of “Specialty Credentials” designated specifically for ICD-10?
    Would there be additional CEUs needed?
    What resources will the AAPC offer for preparation of the ICD-10 exam?
    How would this change effect the rates for membership dues?

    Why would the organization make a decision that will take away what has been already earned? It is understood that everyone has to be proficient in ICD-10 coding. In my opionion, this can only be gained by experience and as resources are readily available, the knowledge will be gained through education. It shouldn’t be mandatory to take such an exam. If you are currently in the professional you will learn ICD-10 as you go through the on-the-job training and mandatory employee education. Each year, we all have to be compliant with the coding guidelines and learn new coding updates.
    Hence, to stay in the profession, there will be no way around learning ICD-10.

    For those not in the profession, but may be preparing for an exam or going through a course, study guides and resources should be available through the AAPC bookstore & curriculum(s). For future AAPC coding exams(CPC, CPC-H, CPC-P), the level of difficulty should change putting more emphasis on ICD-10 coding.

    In my opinion, Coders that are currently certified should be grandfathered in. For those that would be interested in making ICD-10 a specialty, then and only then, it should be offered as a specialty exam to gain a specialty credential as it was done with the other AAPC specialties (ORTHO, CARDIO, CEMC, etc.). For future AAPC coding exams(CPC, CPC-H, CPC-P), the level of difficulty should change putting more emphasis on ICD-10 coding.

  2. Kimberly Crear, CPC, CEMC says:

    Sorry, the previous comment was added in the wrong area!

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