The transition to ICD-10 encompasses much more than simply acquiring the codes and using them. It’s an involved process that requires careful planning, organization, funding and training. With the Oct. 14, 2014 implementation date just a few months away, it’s imperative that clinicians have an action plan in place to meet the deadline. Failure to be ready will result in practices being out of compliance and the denial of reimbursements.
Make A Plan
Planning is key for ICD-10 implementation. The plan must include a timeframe for all the changes and training to be completed, along with a review of the regulations and requirements for transition. ICD-10 can’t be put in place piecemeal. Solicit volunteers or appoint a single individual or team that will be in charge of ensuring each planning step is accomplished.
Break It Down
The transition will include several phases, from the installation of software and hardware to staff training and equipment testing. Break the implementation process into smaller bites to make it more manageable.
Discover if there are any steps or measures that must be completed by a certain time. Clinicians should select a single person or a team to oversee each additional phase of the transition. These individuals will be responsible for ensuring training, IT, software, funding and other associated steps are addressed and completed correctly.
No action plan can be launched without knowing what the impact of ICD-10 will be on the practice. Practices are not the same, even within the same field or specialty. ICD-10 will affect documentation, billing and coding, and the practice’s technology, along with staff education, procedures and funding. An in-depth assessment of the practice and staff will identify areas of concern.
Two of the most critical departments are billing/coding and documentation. Constant and continued communication with vendors, payers and clearinghouses must be maintained to determine compatibility during testing phases. This is also a good time to discover any changes in reimbursements that may be coming in the future. Documentation practices will need evaluation to ascertain if they’ll meet ICD-10 coding requirements.
Implementation is going to be expensive. Funding will need to be secured for a multitude of expenses, many of which may change along the way. There will be costs associated with software upgrades. Practices that opt to maintain their own on-site server will require equipment purchases and advanced security protection.
Until all patient data has been transitioned to the ICD-10 system, clinicians will be utilizing dual coding. The most recent version will be needed in software and printed form. There will be hardware systems to upgrade and software to install. Technical modifications may be required to meet HIPAA standards or meet high-speed data transmission.
Training staff in the use of ICD-10 and new privacy guidelines is necessary, and clinicians should be prepared for a loss of productivity. A wide array of professional organizations and companies offer training in multiple formats. All staff members won’t require the same amount of education and not all people learn the same way.
Training services offer sessions that incorporate eLearning, interactive exercises, and mobile and smartphone applications, along with classroom education, discussion forums, practice tools and simulations. Some customize the training to the individual. Clinicians should ensure that the training entity maintains an appropriate means of ensuring that each staff member is proficient.
Clinicians should be aware that the ICD-10 transition requires new knowledge, skill sets and procedures. Not every staff member may be able to make the transition successfully. New staff may need to be hired to replace those unable to cope with the changes. Training should begin with coders, clinicians, clinical staff and other staff, in that order. Everyone should be aware of the training schedule.
Practices should begin internal testing of their new hardware and software systems to address the inevitable problems that come with such a major undertaking. IT professionals will be a common sight in practices as they perform upgrades, test systems and address problems, all of which can result in productivity losses. Be prepared.
When internal testing is complete, practices should begin testing their systems with clearinghouses, insurance companies, payers and vendors as soon as possible. Staff should know when testing is scheduled and be prepared for interruptions. Conduct simulations and test runs to ensure communication with critical entities and develop a contingency plan for any potential problems.
HIPAA compliance standards must be met for the secure transmission of data. Clinicians work with a host of pharmacies, labs, hospitals and other physicians and they’ll also need to communicate securely and seamlessly with those entities. This is also the time when clinicians should determine which ICD-9 codes they use most often and map them to the ICD-10 version.
Once all system software is working in concert with critical entities, begin dual coding as needed. Create an ongoing plan for determining the source of any errors or problems. Identify any staff members that may need additional training. Additional staff may need to be hired to address back-logs and loss of productivity in the first few months of ICD-10 implementation.
Coding and billing activities deserve special monitoring to ensure continued productivity. In-house billing/coding departments could require additional personnel to maintain a steady workload. The alpha-numeric composition of ICD-10 coding requires billers/coders to switch between their keyboard and numeric pad. It will take extra time to complete the billing process. Any denied claims will need careful tracking to determine where documentation or coding errors may be occurring.
Auditing The Process
There are sure to be glitches along the way, even after several months of ICD-10 use. Processes and procedures throughout the practice have changed. The new codes should be audited to ensure the latest versions are being employed and communication with essential entities monitored for any undetected problems that may have crept in. Most importantly, monitor reimbursements to ensure that pre-ICD-10 implementation amounts have remained the same.