Ready or not the ICD-10 deadline is here

Ready or not, the ICD-10 deadline is here

On the eve of the ICD-10 deadline, healthcare professionals across the country are holding their breath. After years and months of testing, training and preparation, these professionals are feeling a mix of readiness, nerves and anticipation. According to a press release from The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, hospital chief information officers are ready and prepared for tomorrow's transition. Also excited for all that ICD-10 codes will bring to the improved quality of patients and data is the American Health Information Management Association, according to HealthIT Analytics. In fact, AHIMA sees the transition as reason to celebrate.

"Following years of training, testing and collaboration, Oct. 1 will be a momentous day for the healthcare industry and the patients we serve when the ICD-10-CM/PCS code set makes its long-awaited debut," said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA.

Amid pressing questions and angst, the belief that the endless hard work and preparation will pay off was the sentiment at this week's 2015 AHIMA Convention and Exhibit in New Orleans. ICD-10 codes will be not only an improvement for patient quality care, but also a pivotal moment in the healthcare industry as it enhances the value of healthcare information.

For those physicians and providers who may be feeling more anxious than ready, an experienced organization has reached out to offer its support. One of the first organizations in the nation to adopt and implement ICD-10 codes, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has now had over two years to adjust. Since transitioning in October of 2013, there has been plenty of trial and error for the medical center. Noting that a decrease in productivity during the early days of transition is to be expected, Cedars-Sinai's Director of Health Information Thea Campbell offered four critical pieces of advice to the rest of the nation's healthcare organizations.

1. Educate and re-educate
With over 50,000 more diagnostic codes than the ICD-9 codes, even the most experienced coders become beginners again. Everyone will need more than just surface-level training. The only way to gain a comprehensive understanding of ICD-10 coding is through hands-on experience. Top productivity and precision can only be reached through continued education, practice and feedback.

2. Now is the time to hire inexperienced coders
Initially, hiring inexperienced employees during an already trying time may sound counterproductive. Cedars-Sinai originally hesitated when it came to bringing on new coders who had an education but had yet to gain any real world experience. Then came the idea to take advantage of the training programs already in place. Now is the time to increase the hiring of inexperienced coders, according to Campbell. Hire them now, train them now and prepare them and your organization for reduced turnover.

3. Be proactive
Take the initiative and identify any technical errors early on. Address and correct them as they're encountered. It won't do well to wait until after coding denials come flooding in to audit your coders.

4. Evaluate use of resources
In the case of Cedars-Sinai, the responsibility of entering codes for the services they provided was previously on the physicians and professionals. Evaluating whether the valuable time and resources of each physician training for the ICD-10 is worthwhile is an important aspect of the transition process. One avenue that Cedars-Sinai is considering is the hiring of coders to do pro-fee coding and train physicians.

According to Campbell, the best way to approach the transition is with a sense of urgency. An urgency to access any and all resources necessary, an urgency to address challenges and an urgency work hard to for the best possible outcome.