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Apr 30 2012   11:29AM GMT

ICD-10 transition best practices: Staying ahead despite delays

Posted by: Jenny Laurello
ICD-10, ICD-10 transition

Guest post by: Wendy Whittington, MD, MMM, Chief Medical Officer, Anthelio Healthcare Solutions, Inc.

Waiting for the new ICD-10 implementation deadline feels like waiting in line for something, but not being quite sure what you are waiting for.  Most people prefer to be prepared for a future event and many have a fear of the unknown.  Since CMS announced the delay of ICD-10 in February, we seem to be in that phase of “do something, even if it’s wrong!”

So, if you are in that group of health care providers who would like to do something – preferably something right – here are some suggestions:

  • Education. You don’t have to start your coder training program; there are lots of other education programs you can do now. You can begin with general sessions for administration and department heads that will help remove the fear and also help folks to understand that there is a certain logic behind ICD-10. That logic will help them to begin to put a new, more positive, framework around their thoughts.
  • Medical staff. Providers are anxious because there has been so much gloom and doom around ICD-10. Really, once you have divided up the body between right and left, you only have half as many codes as you thought! Also, many of the new codes that have made the news, such as getting hit by a turtle, won’t be used much anyway. Give your physicians a few examples in their own specialties and watch them! Most of the new codes are codes that they wanted all along.
  • Documentation assessment. The foundation of all coding is clinical documentation. So why not improve your documentation now? RAC audits already show, for example, that 11% of transitions from Observation to Inpatient status are not documented at all. Add to that the success of Clinical Documentation Improvement programs nationwide, it’s clear that documentation assessment and improvement provides a winning strategy.
  • Coding. Use this time as an opportunity to address the coding issues you already have. Most hospitals are already facing coding backlogs and coder shortages. If you have the luxury of not having one of those problems, this might be a good time to do some auditing of your coding so that you can look for ways to improve your processes before ICD-10. The processes you improve now will help with productivity issues both now and later.
  • Software Updates. You know that your vendors will have to update your software for ICD-10, but do you really know who is ready and who isn’t? Do you have a comprehensive schedule for the updates? Do you know that you won’t be doing them all at once? Or at least not updating two major systems at exactly the same time? If one of your vendors is ready, why not get started?

For any project, getting started is always the hardest part.  Check with your partners to see who is ready to pitch in!

Please visit Anthelio Healthcare Solutions Inc. for more information on Dr. Whittington and the Anthelio blog.

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