ICD-10 prep on the rise

It's time to starting planning for ICD-10, experts and healthcare executives are saying. Even though the deadline is two years away, time is growing short to get this complex, demanding project underway.

By now, your organization should already have assessed your readiness and built a timeline for moving from ICD-9 to ICD-10, an American Hospital Association official told Hospitals & Health Networks. But if you're behind, don't worry: you'll just have to work harder and faster to catch up.

Other experts say that putting the systems and processes in place to make this monumental change will not be as difficult as training physicians to perform the documentation that will be required for the more granular ICD-10 codes. Without that level of detail, coders will be unable to select the correct codes. Larger hospitals may want to use computer-assisted coding to take some of the load off their staff.

Then there's testing. If the time required to test a system in a production environment is nine months, that means that all the process and IT changes must be completed by the end of 2012--just a little over a year away, HHN points out.

In a Healthcare IT News piece, Melanie Endicott, manager of professional practice resources at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), makes these recommendations to jump-start ICD-10 efforts:

  • Create a plan and assess all the systems that use diagnostic codes. All of them will have to be updated for ICD-10.
  • Evaluate your staff's training requirements and developed targeted education plans across your organization.
  • Adopt a phased approach to training, both to optimize resource utilization and to avoid overwhelming your staff with too much information.
  • Don't be afraid to seek help from industry organizations such as AHIMA and HIMSS.
  • Expect to make a complete changeover to ICD-10 on Oct. 1, 2013. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services won't postpone that deadline.

A recent AHIMA survey shows that 85 percent of responding hospitals have begun preparing for ICD-10, a sharp increase from a year ago. But while more organizations are assessing their needs for the transition, only 49 percent of the respondents said they'd started making changes based on those evaluations.

To learn more:
- read the article in Hospitals & Health Networks
- see the Healthcare IT News piece
- check out the press release on the AHIMA survey