3 tips to train staff on the ICD-10 conversion

Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the FiercePracticeManagement eBook, ICD-10 Implementation for Physician Practices.

Think that the conversion to the ICD-10 coding system is going to take a lot of time, effort and be a drain on human resources?

You're right. 

"It's really challenging in a doctor's office because the phones are always ringing, the patients are always there," says Nancy Enos, an independent consultant with MGMA-ACMPE.

Practices that have set hours for administrative tasks could carve out some of that time for training, she says. "But I think a lot of the larger group practices always have some sort of office hours going on and the clinical staff in the back … are always running with roller skates on during office hours, so I'd imagine that evening or Saturday seminars or 'learning at lunch' type of approaches might work."

If Saturday hours set off payroll alarm bells, consider offering staff comp time instead of extra pay. "But time is money, so at the end of the day whether [staff] get paid time off or paid for the time there will be a cost associated with the training," Enos adds.

The good news, she says, is that most practices should be able to maintain current staffing levels.

Here are three steps to consider when preparing staff for the transition:

  1. Plant the seed: Gail Eminhizer, practice administrator of Digestive Health Associates of Northern Michigan, says she talks to staff about the change at every opportunity, including regular staff meetings.
  2. Determine who needs training: Look beyond the obvious--coders and billers--and keep in mind that employees along the continuum of care will also need training, from the receptionist to medical assistants to physicians.
  3. Get specialty-specific: Even before you begin digging into the new coding system, it's a good idea to offer billing and coding staff extra training in medical terminology, anatomy and pathophysiology, Enos says, adding that free online "anatomy for beginners" videos should offer most employees an adequate refresher.

For more on these and other steps to ICD-10 success--specific to physician practices--download the FiercePracticeManagement eBook, ICD-10 Implementation for Physician Practices. It includes articles on the financial impact of ICD-10 on physician practices, as well as steps to create a roadmap to guide your organization through the transition. 

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