Tips to determine whether you are ready for Icd-10 transition

How to determine if you are ready for ICD-10 transition

With less than 100 days until the implementation of the ICD-10 coding system, providers are scrambling to ensure that their practices are ready for the major transition. Suspicions of another delay are slowly disappearing as the Oct. 1 deadline approaches. There will be a noticeable difference between the practices and medical organizations that have properly prepared for the new codes and those that held off, hoping for another postponement. 

HIMSS director highlights 3 categories for ICD-10 preparedness
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently held a presentation for providers called "ICD-10: Preparing for Implementation and New ICD-10-PCS Section X" to provide helpful tips and suggestions for ensuring that they are ready. Denisia Green, deputy director of the National Standards Group, spoke at the presentation. She explained why the new codes are important to the future of the health care industry and emphasized the fact that unprepared providers should take advantage of the resources available to them.

"ICD-10 is really foundational to our nation's healthcare. We really want to make sure everyone is prepared," Green said during the presentation, as quoted by EHR Intelligence. "We have free resources, tools, and testing available to everyone. ICD-10 is set. The date is set for October 1, 2015. What we want you to understand is that there are not that many codes," she continued. "Yes, you have to take a look at the codes that you use. Over half of the codes are laterality. If you look at the code set by category, some of the codes have actually been streamlined in ICD-10."

Pam Jodock, senior director at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, recently published an article that highlights the three stages that health professionals and their staffs may be in during the ICD-10 transition. The first category includes the providers who are at the final stages of the preparation process, having ignored any rumors that the new codes would be delayed again. Their staffs are trained and their systems are upgraded and ready for the changes. 

Meanwhile, the second stage that many physicians may find themselves in is similar to that of the providers in the first category. They are prepared, but had to begin training for the new codes at the start of 2015 – many practices paused their preparation efforts after the 2014 delay was announced. Jodock noted that those who currently find themselves in this category should still be in good shape for the ICD-10 transition after playing catch up. 

Although the third group is not where anyone in the industry wants to be, it is where many health professionals are. These are the providers who completely put off their plans to train and update their electronic health records based on the hope that another postponement would occur. 

Essential steps to ensure success
Jodock suggested that providers determine which category they are in by checking off these preparation steps, which are tasks that all health professionals who are well-prepared will have completed. A few of these include testing with payers and partners, training and testing coding staff on the new codes, training medical teams on new clinical documentation processes and creating an effective plan in case there are any reimbursement delays after the deadline. 

Although there are other necessary steps that should be followed, if providers have already completed these, they can expect a high success rate when the ICD-10 deadline approaches. Those who find themselves behind, on the other hand, should start using the resources made available through the CMS. For example, the Medicare Administrative Contractors are providing free-billing software to health professionals. Over half of the MACs are also offering the option to submit ICD-10 claims through provider portals on Oct. 1.