ICD-10 delay: How docs can capitalize

Healthcare providers--and practice managers, in particular--would be wise to take advantage of the most recent ICD-10 delay, not by shifting their focus to other projects, but instead shoring up potential areas of weakness, according to family physician Stephen Spain.

"Those who have turned off the engine altogether will likely regret that decision as new deadlines approach," says Spain in a recent post to ICD10monitor.com.

To that end, Spain suggests several recommendations to maintain momentum. Here are three:

  1. Ensure your vendor's readiness: Despite the fact that the deadline has been changed multiple times, there remain some vendors that still are not ready, Spain says. Now, he says, is the time to talk with your vendor about testing and implementation plans, not this time next year. "Be sure ... to hold their feet to the fire to meet deadlines," he says.
  2. ID top codes ahead of time: Developing a "cheat sheet" of frequently used codes will help save massive amounts of time in the long run, Spain says. To do so, figure out which codes you use most in ICD-9, then do some digging to figure out how they'll translate to ICD-10. "The staffer that ... spearheads and implements the cheat sheet ... will be the rock star of the organization after October 2015," Spain says.
  3. Understand provider workflow: To ensure a smooth transition--or at least understand provider complaints about different changes--practice managers first must understand their providers' workflow. Many electronic health record systems boast test environments, Spain says, and practice managers shouldn't be shy about using them.

John Dugan, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers' health industries practice, told FierceHealthcare in April that those in charge of ICD-10 at hospitals and practices should put together a "comprehensive training strategy," if they haven't already done so.

Meanwhile, Mary Beth Haugen, president of Haugen Consulting, said that healthcare organizations should seek out payers willing to do claims testing in an article published in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association.

To learn more:
- here's the ICD10monitor.com post

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