With so much uncertainty and overwhelming change associated with a transition to ICD-10, how could we ignore the potential risks involved?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) offers some helpful steps that facilities can use to properly prepare and hopefully mitigate the risks involved with such an important, yet daunting, conversion.
Establish a transition plan.
Outline the steps your practice intends to follow to comply with ICD-10 requirements. Establish milestones to keep your practice on track. Share your transition plan with your EHR and practice management system vendors and billing services. Talk to them about how you can set up testing before the deadline.
Communicate with your vendors regularly.
Encourage them to take action now to avoid reimbursement delays. Talk to your vendors about making sure your practice management systems will be able to handle ICD-10 transactions. Ask them about their schedule for training your practice's staff on the system changes. Make sure you and your vendors allow ample time for testing ICD-10 systems.
Identify everywhere that your practice uses ICD-9.
Any function where you currently use ICD-9 will be affected by the transition to ICD-10. By taking a look at where you use ICD-9, you will see where you need to be prepared to use ICD-10 codes.
Plan for staff training.
Decide who needs training, what type of training they need, and when they need it. Anyone who will test ICD-10 systems before the transition will need training in advance so they can perform meaningful testing. Others who use ICD codes can be trained six to nine months before the Oct. 1, 2014, transition.
Network with peers.
Talking with your peers in other practices can help you to identify best practices and opportunities for sharing resources.
Set up an emergency fund to cover potential cash-flow disruptions from claims processing.
If you think you might have a serious disruption in getting claims processed after the transition, having a cash reserve on hand could be helpful.
Process ICD-9 transactions before the deadline.
Get claims with ICD-9 transactions processed before the deadline to avoid facing a major backlog after the Oct. 1, 2014, ICD-10 transition.