For those in the industry who have already begun to make the shift towards ICD-10 codes, there are a plethora of new tools available to be utilized.

The steady integration of new ICD-10 tools

With less than one month remaining before the official Oct. 1 deadline, health care IT vendors have expanded the market through the continued creation of new resources aimed at making the transition to ICD-10 codes as smooth as possible, according to Healthcare IT News. For those in the industry who have already begun to make the shift, there are a plethora of new tools available for use. Products include training tools, coding wares, software that helps track the success of transitions and even a training game.

Incorporating new tools prior to Oct. 1
Recommendations and available resources for starting the transition to ICD-10 codes early on have been accessible for quite some time now. However, it's been a toss-up between those health professionals who have followed that advice and those who are waiting until compliance day to start the process. But vendors in the field aren't the only ones pushing for forward movement. Both the American Medical Association and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have stressed the importance of adopting these tools and practices sooner rather than later.

"ICD-10 implementation is set to begin on October 1, and it is imperative that physician practices take steps beforehand to be ready," said AMA President Steven J. Stack, M.D., in a press release.

Focusing on the top 10-15 diagnosis codes, preparing staff and conducting test claims are some of the ways to help prevent setbacks come the first of October. Following the proper steps for training and implementation ahead of time will not only result in better patient quality care, but also faster adaptation to the new codes.

Guidance from the CMS
Achieving a completely successful transition from codes that have defined health care for the past four decades to an entirely new set of codes is a daunting task, but the CMS has remained committed to assisting to the best of its ability. Urging everyone to be prepared for both the expected and the unexpected, CMS Chief Andy Slavitt recently named three keys for a smooth conversion: preparation, assistance and collaboration, according to EHR Intelligence. 

Without preparation, health care professionals will undoubtedly falter in their transition. Slavitt stressed the importance of utilizing the CMS' acknowledgement testing through the end of September. This testing will ensure that systems will work for sending claims with new ICD-10 codes. Collaboration with the AMA and the American Health Information Management Association is another key to success, as the support and partnership among these organizations has been proven so far.

Continued assistance after compliance day
Will those hospitals and practices that are standing by until Oct. 1 have a harder time making the transition than those that have prepared ahead of time?

If so, there are still some methods in place that can help. It has previously been stated in the AMA press release that the first year following the transition will be met with flexibility in regard to the quality reporting process and claims audit. In addition, for the many health professionals who will inevitably have questions that arise with the changes, the CMS has also set up a new ICD-10 coordination center, reported EHR Intelligence. Dr. William Rogers has been named as the head of operations, responsible for any troubleshooting and communication with providers. These implementations should aid in those who are experiencing initial difficulties, but as for the success of a complete turnover to ICD-10 codes, only time will tell.