The long-promised transition to ICD-10 is now upon us. While some independent physicians have focused on the doom-and-gloom consequences of failing to meet the October 1 deadline, many have been diligently working on the transition, which—albeit monumental—is possible for today’s small medical practice.
Read on for the 3 strategies of transition-confident practices that can help prepare your medical office for the 140,000 codes to come.
#1 They took training seriously
While there is likely no way to entirely rid a practice of the stress of ICD-10 implementation, having confidence in ICD-10 training is likely the biggest step towards feeling prepared.
While 85% of hospitals reported that ICD-10 staff training is now complete, only 40% of physician practices have trained their staff.1
Whether your practice chooses to conduct its own in-house training, likely with a staff veteran to lead the charge, or elects to hire a third-party trainer for on-site or boot camp-style sessions, you can’t afford to put training off any longer.
Some practices have found small ICD-10 mini-sessions offered in increments of a half-hour or less to be especially effective in busy office settings. These allow digestible training experiences, while causing minimal disruption to workflow or patient experience. Other practices have used trivia-style games (Jeopardy, anyone?) to add a little fun to familiarizing staff with the most commonly used codes. Start identifying times during the day (or perhaps even weekends or evenings) when your staff can concentrate on getting up to speed on the new coding sets.
And don’t overlook valuable free resources including those found on The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services site Road to 10. Staff can polish up on the new coding sets through resources like the interactive case studies, currently available for 10 scenarios ranging from Asthma to Atrial Fibrillation. Or check out the specialty-specific webcasts for the info most pertinent to your office.
#2 They thought of the little things
The transition to ICD-10 will impact nearly ever process or encounter in a medical practice. That’s why it’s so critical to dedicate some time (and a lot of brainpower!) to think of each step of the typical workflow, from scheduling to payment posting, in order to start making ICD-10 updates.
Although there is less than a month until the big day, there is still time to start making at least some of the changes you’ll need for ICD-10. Below are a few tips on the little things that will help you on the right track:
Get your billing slips in shape
With so many more codes, using a paper slip may no longer make sense. Ask your vendor for charge capture options within your EHR, which can be especially helpful when used on mobile devices.
Use templates whenever possible
Work with your vendors to get templates customized for your practice queued up before the transition. Many vendors can help you set up screens that include items, like most commonly used codes, that will make it easier for the clinician to chart.
Implement alternative documentation
One smart strategy to guarantee the required level of specificity is to ask clinicians to note what they’ve done rather than solely relying on the codes. The coders can modify the codes when necessary.
Start practicing with ICD-10
Now is the time to start using ICD-10 codes for actual patient encounters, although you are still submitting claims under the old coding set. Practicing will quickly reveal if you staff is up to snuff, or needs more training.
Check your financial reports
If your financial reports rely on ICD-9 codes, you will experience a major disruption come October 1. Take the time to update now to maintain insight into your financial performance.
Get key stakeholders in your staff to make a dry run through a patient visit to identify other times when a patient claim could get tripped up on old codes. Taking the time to notice the little things now will lead to a giant payoff.
#3 They chose the right vendors
No medical practice is an island when it comes to the ICD-10 transition. That’s why transition-confident practices understood their ICD-10 preparedness was only as good as their partnerships.
Sadly, many EHR vendors are still scrambling to make all the necessary changes and conduct testing to accommodate the new coding set. This could leave many independent practices in a bad spot come October 1. If your vendor hasn’t been Johnny-on-the-spot to help you with your ICD-10 preparedness, it could be time for a deeper conversation or to consider upgrading to a vendor who can help you achieve compliance.
When considering your practice management and EHR vendor, first, and most importantly, confirm that they are 100% undeniably ready for the switch. If they hesitate, it is wise to ask for a contingency plan in writing with details on how they plan to assist you (and possibly compensate you) if they’re still not ready by the deadline.
Next, ask about their ICD-10 staff training and preparation resources. Many private practices who tackled ICD-10 early relied on the support and training of their vendor to get the ball rolling. Also, make sure they will be ready to help on October 1 by asking about “go-live” onsite or remote resources.
Lastly, ask your vendor how they can help get you compliant quickly, even if it is after October 1. Together, you should be able to develop a realistic timeline and then help you with each step to ICD-10 compliance. You may also ask for some out-of-the-box suggestions. For example, an outsourced billing service may make sense if you don’t have the resources within your practice to meet ICD-10 requirements, or think you are still several months away from compliance.
Not 100% confident for the ICD-10 transition? See how AdvancedMD is helping independent physician practices around the country prepare for the coding switch. Visit myICD10 today.
 2015 CMS Data