Updated on: March 16, 2016

Plan, Plan and Plan Again — No Way to Avoid the ICD-10 Hurricane

Original story posted on: October 29, 2012

For the last few days, folks on the East coast have been wondering whether and when Hurricane Sandy with its high winds and flooding will hit. No matter how well we prepare, it’s already causing havoc, producing anxiety and even a little fear at the disruptions it will cause. By the time you read this, we’ll know our fate—and if you’re not reading it, you’re one of those without power.


The good news is that we all know exactly when ICD-10 will land, and this actually gives us a lot of power. It’s still almost two years until the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will implement the new coding system, and industry experts continue to repeat over, and over, that it’s time NOW for all providers, payers, and vendors to seriously focus on their planning efforts.

To that end, CMS continues to offer helpful tips, issuing transition tips a month or two ago related to building organizational awareness and developing a communication plan. The idea, of course, is to ensure that all internal staff and external business partners understand their implementation roles and responsibilities.  (For more information on this plan, go to http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coding/ICD10/Downloads/ICD10CommunicationAwarenessPlan.pdf).

The agency just issued “The ICD-10 Planning Checklist,” which is highlighted below. Be sure to check out the links for the most current information from CMS, which include three implementation handbooks (for large practices, small to medium practices, and small hospitals) that include detailed information for planning and executing the transition (At http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coding/ICD10/index.html?redirect=/icd10, go to the left column and click on the Provider tab.)

  • Establish a project team, who will be responsible for overseeing the transition. The team will vary based on your organization’s size. Larger physician practices, for example, should have a team with representatives from different departments (e.g., executive leadership, physicians, and information technology [IT]). Smaller practices may only need to have one or two individuals responsible for helping the practice make the switch. For more details, go to http://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coding/ICD10/Downloads/AssemblinganICD-10ProjectTeam.pdf.
  • Establish a budget. Be sure you account for software upgrades and license costs, hardware procurement, staff training, workflow changes during and after implementation, and contingency planning.
  • Revisit and revise your implementation timeline. If you haven’t done so already, update your schedule to reflect the new compliance deadline of October 1, 2014. Create and maintain a timeline that identifies tasks to be completed and crucial milestones and relationships, task owners, resources, and estimated start and end dates.
  • Share your implementation plans and timelines, best practices and lessons learned. Discuss these with internal staff and external partners to ensure transition activities are coordinated. Talk with your payers, billing and IT staff, and vendors to confirm their readiness status.
  • Work with your software vendors, clearinghouses, and third-party billing services to install and test ICD-10 ready products.
  • Coordinate your ICD-10 transition plans among your partners and evaluate contracts with payers and vendors for policy revisions, testing timelines, and related costs. As you continue planning, share lessons learned and best practices with others in your area through organizational newsletters and social media as well as at conferences, workshops, and other educational events.


The above checklist and others like it that professional organizations and industry experts will continue to provide in coming months ensure that everyone in the path of the storm called ICD-10 will survive.

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.
Janis Oppelt

Janis keeps the wheel of words rolling for Panacea®'s publishing division. Her roles include researching, writing, and editing newsletters, special reports, and articles for RACMonitor.com and ICD10Monitor.com; coordinating the compliance question of the week; and contributing to the annual book-update process. She has 20 years of experience in topics related to Medicare regulations and compliance.