How can your practice avoid having cash flow issues in the last part of 2014? It will take planning, training and support from your employees, partners and vendors. This will certainly not be solved with a simple EHR software change—especially since you don’t yet know when or if your EHR vendor will be ready to test ICD-10 documentation and codes prior to October 1, 2014.
To begin, choose a person in your practice to head the process—it may be your practice manager or one of your partners. Their qualifications should include a thorough understanding of the complexity and financial significance of the ICD-10 transition, someone who can delegate effectively and motivate others to accomplish their assignments, and one who will hold others accountable if they do not.
Your “internal champion” may even be a committee, as long as one person is responsible for the entire transition. When you look into the tasks involved, you may feel as if you don’t have anyone available to take on the assignment. That’s okay, too. While you need still need an in-house point person, the champion may very well be an outside consultant.
Training is the next step in the process. Besides the obvious training needed for medical coders, physicians also need to be brought up to date as soon as possible. The earlier you start training, the more frequently your team can train on the material, and the earlier you can begin dual coding. Dual coding (the process of coding patient encounters concurrently in ICD-9 and ICD-10) will provide you with an overview of what needs to be fixed prior to the deadline. Online training alternatives let staff learn remotely. An inexpensive set of courses is provided by BridgeFront.
Frank Musso of Francis C. Musso, CPA, MPA, P.C., notes that “the move to ICD-10-CM will increase documentation activities for medical support staff and physicians. This is a permanent change, not a learning curve change, and translates into an increase in physician time spent on documentation for ICD-10-CM with no expected increase in reimbursement.”
Planning the transition process for your practice takes time, and your team lead may not have enough time to work out the schedules, milestones and assignments required. Several simple project management software programs and whitepapers are available to simplify and accelerate the planning process, among them The ICD-10 Checklist from AHIMA.
Stay tuned for Part III of this ICD-10 series next week!