4 Tips to Prepare for ICD-10 Implementation

Marketing Director

As we near the end of January, how prepared do you feel about the implementation of ICD-10 this fall? Although it may still be several months ahead, the October 1st deadline will be here before you know it, and now is the time to ensure that your organization has a plan in place. It may seem like an overwhelming task, but if you involve the right people, you’ll realize you have the resources to meet this deadline.  The following tips were taken from a presentation I attended at a regional HCCA conference titled, “ICD-10 for Non-Coders”, by Dr. Betty Bibbins, President and Chief Medical Officer at DocuComp.

Codes and More Codes: Get the Language Right First

There’s no wonder why there is so much concern with the ICD-10 system. Compared to ICD-9’s 13,500 diagnosis codes, ICD-10 has 69,000 unique diagnosis codes. ICD-10 also has around 67,000 more procedure codes than its predecessor. Yes, these numbers are large and can sound intimidating. However, if you can focus your efforts on training your physicians to use the right words, then your coders can take care of the coding and compliance can be achieved. As Dr. Bibbins shared, one way to achieve ICD-10 compliance is to train physicians to document properly.

The Power of Five: Mild, Moderate, Severe, Chronic, Acute

According to Dr. Bibbins, training your physicians to use these five words can have a significant impact on your revenue under the new system. ICD-10 doesn’t have tens of thousands of additional diagnosis codes because there are that many ‘new’ disorders. The system is simply much more specific than its predecessor. One of the things you should focus on this spring is meeting with your hospital staff to ensure they are appropriately documenting. Again, if the proper documentation is taken, then coding specialists can provide the appropriate code to meet compliance.

Motivating Non-Employed Physicians

While we’ve seen a trend in hospitals employing more physicians, non-employed physicians still encompass a significant portion. One way to motivate them is to explain the consequences they can expect for non-compliance in October regarding reimbursements. If you lead with the number of codes, it will sound overwhelming, but remember that the key is to be more specific in documentation. Orthopedic surgeons and etymologic cardiologists, in particular, should learn more about the specificity and complexity of the new codes. Some organizations are even requiring ICD-10 training for physicians before re-credentialing. There are educational resources available and it is possible to accomplish this with a four-hour course.

Don’t Forget the ‘Dress Rehearsal’ Before the Deadline

Just like actors run dress rehearsals before the opening night of a production, you should plan to give yourself enough time to test your facility’s implementation of ICD-10 before October 1st. It is always better to catch things while you have time to make adjustments and avoid losing reimbursements when the deadline rolls around. Dr. Bibbins recommends having everything in place by early September, giving you and your team enough time to have trial runs and correct any issues.

While this is by no means a comprehensive guide to preparing for ICD-10 this fall, I hope you’ve found something that you can apply to your action plan. What are your key ICD-10 objectives? Let us know in the comments below.