3 ICD-10 recommendations for hesitant providers

Despite a myriad of physician excuses for delaying the move from ICD-9 to ICD-10, the deadline for implementation now sits a mere nine months away. To that end, writes medical coding expert Betsy Nicoletti, failure to make the switch could have devastating consequences, including claims processing delays or denials, all of which ultimately means no money.

"Resistance is futile," Nicoletti says in a recent Medscape Business of Medicine post. "Now that the calendar reads 2014, it's time for practices of all sizes to prepare for ICD-10."

In her post, Nicoletti shares several pieces of advice to help providers prepare for the inevitability of ICD-10. Here are three:

  • Get a demonstration from your vendor partner: Nicoletti calls it "imperative" that groups check the accuracy of their mapping program. "Take a test drive in your EHR or practice management system," she says. She adds that the goal for providers should be testing mapping accuracy before the mappings are relied upon for claims submission.
  • Train your coding and billing staff members: The time is past for trying to figure out the "why" of ICD-10, Nicoletti says. Instead, coders should buckle down and train for real-life scenarios via sample cases.
  • Remove inactive problems from problem lists in your EHR: "There can be incorrect or resolved problems on a problem list if all ICD-9 codes that have ever been assigned are imported into the problem list," Nicoletti says. Accuracy on such a list will help to streamline the ICD-10 code selection process.

Several surveys and reports indicate that health professionals are behind on various aspects of ICD-10 preparation. In the most recent--a poll conducted by advisory firm KPMG--74 percent of respondents said they either had not, or had no plans to conduct end-to-end testing involving external entities. Additionally, half of all respondents said they had not yet estimated the cash-flow impact of the coding switch.

A survey published in December by the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange determined that the healthcare industry is "far behind" milestones suggested by an ICD-10 timeline developed by WEDI and the North Carolina Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance in September 2012.

To learn more:
- read the Medscape Business of Medicine post

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