CMS releases Road to 10 tools

Many health care providers and physicians have wondered whether Oct. 1, 2015, will be the day that ICD-10 is finally implemented. With the support from Congress and health care stakeholders who have been supporting its release, many experts believe that this year will be the year we say goodbye to ICD-9 for good. 

As many providers have reported being unprepared for ICD-10, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has worked to provide practices and hospitals with the tools to prepare for the new codes and procedures. The agency's most recent resource is the Road to 10 tool that focuses on assisting specialty practices in preparing for ICD-10

A helping hand for those who have fallen behind
The new group of resources was designed for providers who do not know what is expected of them in regard to the ICD-10 switch or how to reach the ICD-10 benchmarks. Among the tools included in the Road to 10 is a feature that consists of an interactive timeline. It enables providers to develop a personalized plan by choosing their specific practice type, its size, progress and business partners.

The CMS recommended that health care providers have their internal testing completed by mid January, according to EHR Intelligence. The external testing process is expected to last well into July while organizations and their payers and clearinghouses coordinate.

The federal agency is also looking for volunteers to participate in their end-to-end testing week set to take place toward the end of April. However, there is an alarming number of providers that have fallen far behind, which means that many are going to experience a shock once October rolls around and ICD-10 is no longer a thing of the future. The CMS highly advises practices struggling with the number of tasks involved in making the switch to rely on the Road to 10 for help, where common practice specialties are listed under the action plan tool, including information tailored to that specialty, such as the clinical documentation changes necessary for the most common ICD-10 codes.

Specialty practices receive transition help
Specialty practices that use the Road to 10 for guidance as October approaches receive several suggestions and pointers specific to their needs. For example, the Road to 10 reminds cardiologists that a myocardial infarction is only considered acute for a period of four weeks after the incident in ICD-10, which is much less when compared to the eight weeks in ICD-9.

The resource also has pediatrics, family practices, internal medicine, OB/GYN and orthopedic practice categories to make practice and preparation as easy and convenient as possible. Under each specialty there are the common ICD-9 codes and their ICD-10 equivalents. A primer for clinical documentation as well as training and education resources are also at providers' disposal.

For example, for orthopedic surgeons, the common codes section lists frequent diagnoses, such as cervical spine disorders and displacements and neck and back pain, with all of the ICD-9 codes listed, followed by the updated ICD-10 codes so physicians can make the distinction. The training and education resources section allows providers to view webcasts that touch on nearly all of the changes that providers will have to make as they transition. Meanwhile, the sample scenario section also contains four different examples of how to handle a specific situation with ICD-10, highlighting the differences in patient care and documentation as opposed to how they would be handled with ICD-9. 

Practicing for ICD-10 implementation with the Road to 10 tool will not only better familiarize providers with the new codings and procedures, but it will help them to recognize and avoid the common errors and downfalls experienced by their specialty in major transitions like this.