ICD-10 educational materials must be written by, for physicians, coders

As the ICD-10 deadline draws nearer every day and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services gears up for its week of testing the provider experience of the new coding system, the time is now or never for practices to educate their physicians and orthopedic coding staff on the correct procedures for the new system of diagnostic codes.

Within practices, each department can expect to be affected by the transition, but that impact can be lessened by effective education focusing on the thousands of new codes and how best to input them in a timely manner that decreases the interruption to patient treatment on the physician's side of the process and billing and payment on the provider's end. With little time left before the transition and so many new codes set to impact so many facets of the health care industry, experts are recommending that ICD-10 education be targeted toward its audience – and nothing more.

The picture so far
Even though the transition to ICD-10 began years ago, the exponential increase in codes has left many practices unable to keep up with the changes. Consequently, the majority of practices are still unprepared for the changeover.

According to a survey by the Medical Group Management Association, as of January 2014, less than 10 percent of practices felt that they had made significant progress toward their ICD-10 preparation. Even more concerning is that this figure has only progressed slightly over the space of a year – the January 2013 mark rested at 4.7 percent. 

Robert Tennant of MGMA told Health Leaders Media that while those numbers paint a dire picture of the transition to the new coding system, ICD-10 preparation progresses in stages.

"What we are finding through research and discussions with our members and industry [is that] the pieces aren't coming together as quickly as the government had expected them to," Tennant said.

The physician experience
The changeover will happen on Oct. 1, 2014, whether providers, physicians and coders are ready or not, and if practices are still holding off on other stages of preparation to move forward, odds are they will not be ready themselves when their time comes. In an interview with EHRIntelligence, Michelle Leavitt, director of courseware and product strategy for HealthcareSource, stressed the need for stratified education within practices above all else.

"The recommendations that we've seen from … thought leaders out there, is to think about providing only a level of education to [doctors] and clinicians that they need," Leavitt told EHRIntelligence. "It's not the same kind of education that a coder needs, obviously. Physicians are not going to be coding. So you really have to tailor that approach so that the content you're delivering to doctors hits only what they need to know."

Leavitt explained that while practices have known for some time that the changeover to ICD-10 would be a shift on the institutional level, they are only now realizing that implementing those changes will require the cooperation of each type of employee. With not much time left, the coder must work with the physician, who must work with the provider.