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Tips for ICD-10 preparation: assessments, training and post go-live

Though methodologies may differ, all HIPAA-covered healthcare entities have one thing in common when it comes to implementing the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Edition (ICD-10) codes: a deadline of October 1, 2014. Preparation varies widely among providers, but the authors of a white paper issued by revenue cycle management consultant Pyramid Healthcare Solutions offers some advice aimed at benefitting all organizations.

First, healthcare organizations have to realize the new ICD-10 system will affect more than just coding, reimbursement rates and billing; it will span the reach of EHR systems and corresponding data and analytics technologies, too. Keeping in mind that late or shallow adoption strategies can back up payment and take a toll on the revenue cycles, providers are best off devising an action plan sooner rather than later.

To get started, organizations should conduct an extensive assessment of clinical documentation processes to seek out situations or diagnostic cases that need more data for an appropriate ICD-10 code to apply. Thoughtful process evaluations like these can facilitate successful ICD-10 implementation, the authors said but also make the transition more than just a compliance mandate.

And to ensure the codes are being used accurately and effectively, providers will have to take care to train both physicians and coders to master the new system. This will require resources, labor and time – and hospitals should be prepared to offer them. The time it takes to train users will cut down on errors later down the line, limiting workflow disruptions and beefing up reimbursements.

Lastly, like most new health IT initiatives, providers can’t overlook the importance planning to troubleshoot issues after go-live. ICD-10 may cause software errors during the first few months of implementation, and providers are encouraged to have procedures in place to make up for the loss in productivity and cash flow the new codes might instiagate.

Whatever the precautions, the transition to ICD-10 – featuring more than 10 times as many codes as the current ICD-9 – isn’t going to be easy, but plenty of resources seek to ease the strain.

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