Extend and improve training

by Zack Budryk

Another way to take advantage of the delay is to extend and improve employee training. This could be particularly beneficial to providers and organizations that felt inadequately prepared for the Oct. 1, 2014 date.  "Organizations should consider developing a plan to capitalize on the additional time for further training and practice," Deloitte Healthcare Provider Lead Mitch Morris, M.D., wrote. "Providers should consider keeping the training plan on target to increase user experience with the new code set."

"One thing the delay will create is additional 'practice' for our coders, as well as more time to assess areas of documentation improvement that can be addressed before final implementation," Renée Monahan, vice president of revenue cycle at Conemaugh Health System in Johnstown, Pa., told Healthcare IT News.

Despite the inconvenience, providers should consider the delay as an opportunity to make the switch smoother, added Kristen Shoup, manager of revenue cycle at Wooster (Ohio) Community Hospital. "The investments in coder training are not lost dollars, we will just use the additional time to practice more," Shoup told Healthcare IT News. "This will also allow us to ease the physicians into the transition more gradually, as we will query based on ICD-10 concepts, with the intent to reinforce the information needed."

The next step in training is not one-size-fits-all. "It depends on where [providers] are at, relative to their training cycle," John Dugan, a partner in PriceWaterhouseCooper's Health Industries practice (pictured right), told FierceHealthcare in an exclusive interview. "Several of our clients have been very aggressive in training the physician community… for those who have not put together a comprehensive training strategy and a training timeline, I think it really is an opportunity to take a pause."

During the delay, providers have "a window to link up training, not only as it related to ICD-10, but really link it to… investments that you're making in electronic health requirements and meeting the requirements for Meaningful Use," Dugan said. "To me the good news for providers is there's an opportunity to reduce the overall cost of training, if they sequence it appropriately."

Extend and improve training