Looking at a calendar that’s only 12 months long, it would seem that providers have plenty of time to get ready for the mammoth transition into ICD-10 diagnostic codes slated for October of 2014. However, doctor leaders who understand what it takes to administrate a busy practice, and how slow change can be, realize that there’s no time like the present to start tackling all the logistics involved.
With that said, outside consultants and other experts in medical administration are suggesting key benchmarks for a full ICD-9 to ICD-10 process that will equip physicians with what they will require to operate in tomorrow’s industry. Here are some of the major pieces of this kind of overhaul.
One task that you should do is look at how ICD-10 transition activities and requirements will affect your practice. This will give you a birds-eye view of how big the stakes are and what compliance or partial failure is likely to look like.
You and your key team members should also go through and look at all software products, device platforms and other tech assets that use the current ICD-9 structure. This will also provide more information on what it might cost to transition, and what really needs to be changed in every key area, from notes to billing.
Huddles With Vendors
In renovating your entire scope of operation, you will probably need to appoint point people to work with vendors, third-party billing services, and others to make sure that ICD-10 fixes will be in across the board. Some experts indicate this whole process could take as long as nine months to a year for the average practice. Be sure the point people assigned also include front line folks.
Another extremely important part of preparing for the ICD-10 transition is staff training. Outside consultants generally project that staff training will take several months or more. Make sure that each level of staffing at your clinic or practice is confident in handling the new code conventions and correctly assigning diagnostic codes. Cutting corners on staff training can lead to extreme increases in insurance denials or other problems down the road, so it’s a good idea to cover this area thoroughly when creating a comprehensive plan for implementing this important change in medical documentation.
As your practice makes its way toward October 2014, continue to keep on top of changes affecting the way you do business now and in the future. A proactively managed medical business will anticipate and have a game plan in place to meet these challenging changes. This could mean the difference between keeping your medical practice profitable and independent or losing your autonomy or shutting your doors.