How to educate physicians on ICD-10

With only 12 months until the implementation of the latest clinical documentation improvement, there are many health information management professionals who are struggling to get their organizations ready for the release of ICD-10 on Oct. 1, 2015. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently released a reminder of the fast-approaching date, emphasizing that time is running out and physicians need to adopt effective documentation habits for a smooth transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10.

Coders wanting to become familiar with the new terminology can turn to the many online courses, training seminars and reference books at their disposal. However, according to EHR Intelligence, training providers will only be effective with a different approach.

AHIMA conference sheds light on effective training
The American Health Information Management Association recently held a conference where the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 and the most effective means of training physicians in order to prevent chaos when the big switch comes were discussed. 

Vickie Monteith and Cheryl Golden of Deloitte & Touche LLP explained that a successful CDI program has to meet the needs of the provider's selfish nature. This includes appealing to a physician's competitive nature and using clinical documentation improvement as a means for reaching a goal instead of including it in an increasingly large pile of mandates and receiving hardly any benefits.

According to EHR Intelligence, Monteith said during the conference that physicians are competitive and that numbers regarding CDI success, especially in relation to where the physician's peers are, should be presented to them at least once a month. When CDI specialists supply them with data, this helps in winning them over. Although this may not win them over from a payment standpoint, she emphasized the benefits of using benchmarking to help them get a grasp on where they currently stand versus their competitors. 

Real charts serve as great tools to represent data and examples when training physicians to give them a point of reference that they can clearly understand. Monteith also pointed out the importance of educating trainee physicians. Issuing tests that require a passing grade before they can continue through the resident program would ultimately produce higher quality documentation when they eventually become attending physicians. 

The importance of starting the training process now
If physicians have documentation that is not efficient in ICD-9, it is essential not to translate it into ICD-10, as the data may not be relevant once fully in ICD-10. The only way to have efficient documentation that can be sent for testing is to train and educate people. 

"We're sitting in a compressed time frame here," Monteith warned. "We're at October 1. If you haven't started training, if you have not built your education for your residents or trained your physicians, you have a pretty small time line. Can you do it? Yes."

CMS has released forms to help ease the transition process, such as a guide through the transition basics, answering the frequently asked questions that physicians may have as the time until the implementation of ICD-10 quickly dwindles.