February 3, 2014

Countdown to ICD-10

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One of the biggest challenges we face as we prepare for ICD-10 is getting providers engaged. Too many of my colleagues view this transition as an administrative function or a coding initiative. They lack an appreciation for, and understanding of, how this code set implementation is going to affect their daily routines. That is not to say that it is too late to gain their attention and involve them in preparation and training for the changes ahead.

If you are responsible for seeing to it that your providers are prepared, I am sure that you are already researching and offering program-specific training to your physicians and other providers. If you have not already made considerable progress on this front, I strongly encourage you to quicken your pace, as time is running short.

As a provider, I know our attention span for administrative matters can be short. Yes, you can get us fired up about ICD-10 today, and we will start our training next week with fervor. However, by next month, or Oct. 1, our interest, recall, and concern may be flagging. To help counter this, I would suggest that you prepare some visual reminders to keep this transition on the front burner for your providers.

Consider creating an ICD-10 countdown schedule, with a simple poster for each of the following 10 steps. We have about 10 months before the transition, so the start of a 10-step countdown seems logical. Print these reminder flyers and place them sequentially in prominent locations in your workplace where your nurses, physicians, PAs and NPs will see them. By continuing the countdown every few weeks, the flyers will create interest, making staff curious to see what the next number on the countdown reveals.

I have listed below my suggestions for this signage, and you should feel free to embellish, change, or rearrange them to fit your situation. At the bottom of each flyer, be sure to put the contact information for your ICD-10 educators and the date of the ICD-10 implementation.

10 Ten stands for ICD-10, which will be here on the first day of the 10th month: Oct. 1, 2014. Have you heard about ICD-10? Do you know how it will affect your practice of medicine? Are you ready? Call us, and we will help get you the answers!

9 Nine is for the ICD-9 diagnosis coding system, which is on the way out. Did you know that? Do you know how the conversion to ICD-10 will affect your practice of medicine? We are here to help explain. We have training available for you!

8 Eight is for the eight-letter word “training.” You need it! ICD-10 is not terribly complex, but you need to learn how to enhance your documentation to adapt to this new system. We have training tailored to your specialty. Contact us today to get your training underway.

7 Seven is for how many placeholders there are in the new ICD-10 coding system. ICD-9 only had five placeholders. We don’t need you to become coders, but your training will outline how your documentation will need to support the information needed to successfully assign the new codes.

6 Six is for the six areas of your practice that will be affected by ICD-10: financial transactions, workflow, documentation, reimbursement, quality measure reporting, and, last but not least, your stress level! Training and preparing is the best way to minimize the impact of the ICD-10 transition on all these areas. We can help you!

5 Five is for the five placeholders of the ICD-9 coding set. The new ICD-10 system will have seven placeholders, and your documentation will need to contain specific information to enable us to code your encounters and cases correctly. If you have not completed your ICD-10 training, contact us today so we can help you.

4 Four is for the four-letter word “test.” That is what we are doing now, and you should be testing in the EHR. This coding change can significantly affect your workflow, and it is imperative that you test in the EHR to see how the new code set will affect your daily routine. Contact us to help you get started!

3 Three is for checking on these three things now that the implementation of ICD-10 is at hand.

  1. Everyone should have immediate access to a new ICD-10 coding manual.
  2. All providers must have completed their specialty-specific training.
  3. All providers should be working in the test EHR environment to see how their workflow will be affected on Oct. 1.

2 2 is for “one on one.” In the little time we have left before ICD-10, our trainers want to have a brief one-on-one meeting with you to assess your readiness and answer any last-minute questions you may have about this transition.

1 One is for you – you are the one about whom we are concerned. With the transition to ICD-10 coming up in a few days, we want to be sure that you are trained, prepared, and armed with a good understanding of the documentation benchmarks and workflow impacts of the ICD-10 transition. Call us today if you have any questions. We will be here for you!

These are just my recommendations, and again, feel free to create your own or use these. Play with your click art and layout to make your poster presentations eye-catching and colorful. These frequently changing reminders, prominently displayed, will keep the transition to ICD-10 in the limelight in your clinics and hospitals, promoting interest and stimulating providers to complete their training and preparation.

Good luck!

About the Author

Stephen C. Spain, MD, CPC, is a family physician with more than 30 years of patient care experience. He currently serves as Physician Advisor to Career Step and, as such, informs their ICD-10 provider documentation education and presents the introduction to the Career Step online overview module, ICD-10: Understanding its Purpose and Value. In 1998, Dr. Spain founded Doc-U-Chart, a consulting firm that helps medical professionals improve their understanding and application of documentation and coding principles. Dr. Spain provides education, auditing and compliance services for a broad spectrum of medical specialties. He earned his CPC credential in 2007 and has authored numerous articles on coding and compliance issues. He recently served as a member of the National Advisory Board of the AAPC and is a frequent lecturer on the transition to ICD-10.

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Disclaimer: Every reasonable effort was made to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time it was published. However, due to the nature of industry changes over time we cannot guarantee its validity after the year it was published.
Dr. Stephen Spain, MD, CPC

Stephen C. Spain, MD, CPC, is a family physician with more than 30 years of patient care experience.  He currently serves as Physician Advisor to Career Step and, as such, informs their ICD-10 provider documentation education and presents the introduction to the Career Step online overview module, ICD-10: Understanding its Purpose and Value.  In 1998, Dr. Spain founded Doc-U-Chart, a consulting firm that helps medical professionals improve their understanding and application of documentation and coding principles.