Tips for Minimizing Hassles in Transitioning to ICD-10

by webadmin on August 13, 2013

ICD-thumb2The Great ICD-10 Transition of 2013/14 continues as many healthcare organizations rush to meet the Oct. 1, 2014, deadline, a date that seems to be around the corner even though it’s over a year away.

Two articles, one from FierceHealthIT and one from GovernmentHealthIT, offer several helpful tips for ensuring a smooth transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10.

First, Dan Bowman of FierceHealthIT provides three suggestions, based on the experiences of St. Luke’s University Health Network in Bethlehem, Penn., for keeping the medical team united during the transition:

1.)  Prioritize internal coding staff education.

Cheryl Davidson, St. Luke’s network manager for compliant documentation management, said this education is “‘fundamental’ to ensuring the rest of the organization is trained properly,” since “they’re the ones who are out there in the trenches doing the work. I can stand up in meetings and say this is coming and show PowerPoint presentations, and that’s all well and good. But when you’re actually out there talking to a physician one-on-one, you need to really understand what you’re telling them for them to understand the process, as well.”

2.)  With this education, start simply, be broad, then incorporate the complexities, Davidson urges.

To dive right in, she said, “would only serve to confuse and aggravate clinicians.”

“Her approach was to first hold a series of general overview meetings that focused on practical strategic actions, and then to train clinicians on one diagnosis change per month to make those concepts reality,” Bowman writes.

3.)  It is vital, he adds, that the executive team “be proactive about the change,” since “ICD-10 is coming, whether providers like it or not.”

Embrace the inevitability, Davidson advised. The value in having buy-in from the executive suite cannot be underestimated.

While communicating with your physicians and executives is vital, Carl Natale at GovernmentHealthIT reminds organizations of the importance in keeping healthcare payers in the loop.

“Early communication will help healthcare providers test the ICD-10 claims process and gain insight into how reimbursements will be affected after Oct. 1, 2014,” he explains. “That second part will help prepare for DRG shifts. This puts a price tag on procrastination. The early communication also will help develop relationships with healthcare payers. This could help speed responses when providers need answers and clarification during the claims process.”

He said the following 10 questions should be asked of healthcare payers in order to get a clear picture of where they stand with the ICD-10 transition:

  1. Are you prepared to meet the ICD-10 deadline of October 1, 2014?
  2. Where is your organization in the transition process?
  3. Will you conduct external testing?
  4. What will we need to test with you?
  5. When will you be ready to accept test transactions from my practice/hospital?
  6. Will you be dual processing, and if so, when will you start?
  7. What will happen if something goes wrong?
  8. Who will be my primary contact at your organization for the ICD-10 transition?
  9. Can we set up regular check-in meetings to keep our progress on track?
  10. Do you anticipate any changes in policies or delays in payments to result from the switch to ICD-10?

He added that this communication needs to be ongoing and frequent if organizations want to minimize the financial disruption and stress resulting from the transition.

Where does your organization stand with ICD-10? How are you striving to keep your team and payers duly informed of the process? What are some of the lessons you’ve learned so far?

-by Pete Fernbaugh

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