Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but, at this point, health care organizations should be knee-deep in their preparations for the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Edition (ICD-10) transition. It’s a difficult process, but it’s also a necessary one, since the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will no longer support the older ICD-9 after Oct. 1, 2013.
Earlier this year, the American Health Information Management Association convened its AHIMA 2011 ICD-10 Summit. At the event, three health systems shared their strategies for addressing the ICD-10 transition. The most obvious tip — start early — cannot be heeded, but the following five pieces of advice can be.
- Give clinicians a leading role in the ICD-10 implementation project.
- Use a readiness tracking tool to chart each department’s progress and to identify milestones — and, as a means of maintaining momentum, celebrate each milestone.
- Use the move to ICD-10 codes as a chance to improve clinical documentation processes; these include the meaningful use requirements to create coded problem lists and electronic discharge summaries.
- Don’t neglect registration, payment and other key steps in the revenue cycle.
- Since external factors such as updated vendor offerings remain outside an organization’s control, identify the risks and opportunities associated with the ICD-10 transition and draft a response plan for each.
The experiences of the three health systems suggests that a successful ICD-10 transition views the mandate not just as a regulatory requirement but, instead, as an opportunity to streamline processes and improve overall decision making. It’s advice worth heeding as Oct. 1, 2013 nears.