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Preparation for ICD-10 codes varies tremendously among providers

As the ICD-10 transition deadline approaches, providers face many hurdles. Some are more prepared than others. This five-part series examines what must be done, why and how.

U.S. health care organizations have less than two years to fully adopt International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Edition (ICD-10) codes. An informal poll of attendees at last month's American Health Information Managers Association's AHIMA 83rd Convention and Exhibit attendees revealed that the problems with ICD-10 implementations are several and complex for hospitals:

  • Getting physicians engaged and ready to provide more complete diagnosis and treatment documentation to satisfy payers.
  • Getting senior hospital leadership to take the ICD-10 transition seriously, especially when it comes to the potentially disastrous financial implications during the transition period from ICD-9.
  • Making sure back-end IT systems are ready for the switch.
  • Riding software vendors hard to ensure they're fully supporting ICD-10 codes with enough time to spare for customers to run pilots on their network test beds.
  • Coordinating with payers to make sure they're prepared to receive and interpret claims using ICD-10 codes.

While attendees came to Salt Lake City from the different perspectives of HIM managers, transcriptionists, vendors and even IT staff, they all agreed on one point: The ICD-10 transition date of Oct. 1, 2013 might seem far off, but it's not a lot of time to prepare. In fact, many software vendors haven't yet released updates supporting ICD-10 codes.

"If you talk about the industry in general, [providers] are at such different stages of even recognizing what ICD-10 means," said Deborah Neville, director of revenue cycle, coding and compliance for Elsevier.

The coding educator said that, from her perch observing larger health care providers, "You have some that are really proactive -- they've got their implementations teams and whatever -- and you have others who haven't started yet. They know ICD-10's coming," Neville added, but they have been preoccupied with EHR implementation and the HIPAA version 5010 switch.

IT leaders are increasingly getting involved in ICD-10 transition teams. They're interfacing with HIM departments to roll out transcription hardware and software to physicians and nurses, as well as working on computer-assisted coding systems (CACS) that will help coders more efficiently navigate the substantially larger set of ICD-10 codes, and building interfaces from speech recognition engines and coding databases to EHR systems. In some cases, they're also involved in software training for staffers who will use these new applications; these include physicians, nurses, coders and transcriptionists.

This series examines what health care providers, software vendors and payers must do to meet the approaching ICD-10 deadline -- and how they can do what needs to be done.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Don Fluckinger, Features Writer.

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