November 8, 2011

Doc, Help Us Help You

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ICD-10 transition campaigns are being launched all across the country. Teams are being mobilized, charters are being written, plans are being developed, GAP analyses are being completed and action items and objectives are being delegated. Meetings are scheduled ad nauseum and early status reports are rolling in. Proactive ICD-10 team members are proud of their work and satisfied that their preparation will ensure a smooth transition.

There’s only one problem. At the end of the day, all this frantic effort is useless unless providers are ready to document the elements needed to capture the most specific codes. Don’t document? You can’t code.  Can’t code? You can’t submit a claim. Can’t submit a claim? Well, you get the idea.

A few months ago I wrote a column (“Doc Talk”) about how to talk to providers about ICD-10. After being on the road hosting ICD-10 readiness workshops for most of the last two months, it has become apparent to me that the documentation conversation with your providers is the cornerstone of a successful transition.

Without exception, a comment overheard at these workshops is “Man, I wish my doctors could hear this.” Well, here’s an idea: print out this article, highlight the following few paragraphs and somehow get it into the hands of your doctors. Anonymously post it on the bulletin board in the break room, slide it under their office doors, or better still, just put it in their hands and ask them to read it.

“Doctor, thank you for all you do. Thank you for taking such great care of your patients and your staff. We appreciate you and will do whatever we can to ensure the success of our practice. You always said we could come to you if we had something really important to talk to you about, and, well, this is really important.

As you know, we are talking about getting the practice ready for the ICD-10 transition. We have committed financial resources to make sure we receive proper training. We are scheduling extra hours so we have time to learn the new system. We are working with our IT vendors and business partners to make sure our software has been tested and is ready for claims submission. We have developed a good plan. Everything will be ready, but we are still concerned. Without you capturing new documentation elements in order for us to be able to submit properly coded claims, all the planning, budget provisions and new technology will be wasted. All the training hours and time away from our daily duties will be for naught. You see, it all starts with you. If you don’t document, all the planning, training and technology in the world can’t help us.

The new codes are so specific, documentation elements you’ve never had to capture before must be recorded or we can’t submit claims properly. Claims being denied due to insufficient documentation and unspecific codes will cause a ripple effect, additionally meaning we will have to chase you down in order to resubmit. We are already so busy with our day-to-day duties that it will be difficult to find time to do this extra work, which would be unnecessary had required documentation been recorded in the first place. I am asking you to do this for us, but mostly, this is for you. We want you to continue to be able to render amazing care to our patients and to us. We want you to continue to be successful. We want you to know that we care enough to write this note to you in the first place.

So, Doc, we promise we’ll be ready. All we ask is this: help us help you.”

About the Author

Dennis Flint is director of consulting and educational services for Complete Medical Solutions. Dennis formerly served as the CEO of a large, multi-specialty physician group, a full service MSO and was a certified professional coder through AAPC. He has authored or co-authored numerous “common sense” practice management books and implementation manuals. Educated at the United States Air Force Academy, he had a distinguished career as an Air Force pilot flying numerous secret and sensitive missions.

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Read 101 times Updated on September 23, 2013
Denny Flint

Denny is the chief executive officer of Complete Practice Resources, a healthcare education, consulting, and software company headquartered in Slidell, Louisiana. He formerly served as the CEO of a large, multi-specialty physician group, full service MSO. Denny has authored or co-authored numerous “common sense” practice management books and implementation manuals. He is an award winning, nationally known consultant, speaker, and educator bringing his expertise to making the complex “simple.” He currently serves on the editorial board of ICD10 Monitor. Educated at the United States Air Force Academy, Denny had a distinguished career as an Air Force pilot and has a long history of commitment to excellence and dedication to his clients’ success.