Making the ICD-10 Transition Manageable

There are two things that immediately come to mind when talking about ICD-10 implementation. First is the thinking that 2013 is still a long time away, so many practices put it on the back burner to deal with it later. Second is the realization that it is going to take a tremendous amount of time and effort, which is another reason practices put off the preparation for ICD-10.

ICD-10 cost is controllable if you take a strategic approach. First look at your vendor contracts. Do you have anything written in the language that states government mandates are covered? If so, the cost of implementation may have just gone down for you. If not, consult early with your vendors to see what updates are needed and any costs associated with them. Also be sure to check to see if you have enough capacity to handle running dual systems during the transition. By working with vendors early you can strategically budget for upcoming costs.

Next to hardware/IT costs the next biggest expense will be education. Each staff member will require some level of ICD-10 training to perform their job functions. If you take the training in steps, you will experience a higher level of understanding as well as a reduced loss of productivity. Start now to examine your documentation to see how it will affect your transition to the higher level of specificity found in ICD-10-CM. Work with clinicians on documentation and show them the differences so that they can alter documentation to meet the needs for the future. This also helps them to become more familiar with the changes and more easily learn the code set when the timing is right.

Keep in mind that it is too early to learn the code set in detail now. There were thousands of changes between 2009 and 2010 and we anticipate many more for 2011. Waiting for a stable learning environment enables you to learn the system just once and allows you to hone in on final guidelines once they become set in stone. It is suggested that you do not learn the entire code set until late 2012 or early 2013. It is much more effective for you to start on implementation efforts today and set the stage early for the overall impact of ICD-10 on your practice.

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