August 31, 2015

The ICD-10 Coding Final Countdown Checklist: Part 1 of a 4-Part Series


We are now in the final few weeks before ICD-10 implementation, and it’s critical that coding and health information management (HIM) professionals take the appropriate steps along the way. You need to review your final checklist before Oct. 1 arrives – and to make sure you have in your checklist a “coding command center.”


Having a central point of contact and a central line of communication during the first two to three weeks after implementation is something that can be very beneficial. This is often referred to as a “command center,” but it also could be referred to as the “ICD-10 coding call center” or “coding Q&A center” or something similar. This would be specifically for the coding operations and coding workforce to utilize as a valuable tool. 

The purpose of the coding command center is to centralize the reporting of coding issues, problems, and questions. This provides an organizational structure that can be used to create a master list of all reported ICD-10 issues within your practice or organization. In addition, tracking the coding issues by type and with recommended actions or resolutions will allow for quick identification of any systemic issues and/or when and where an issue needs to be raised to a higher level of attention within your management or organization. Also, having the same responses and resolutions to the same coding issues and questions promotes consistency and continuity, and adds value to coding quality.

Depending on the size of your practice, you’ll want to create a type of coding command center hotline telephone number for those who will be performing the actual ICD-10 coding for the first few weeks of October. Consider having a uniformly staffed call center for eight hours a day, Monday through Friday at a minimum, with more hours and more days added depending on your workforce needs and operational structure. Using a toll-free number, of course, is the best and easiest to make arrangements. Once this is created, you’ll want to be sure to communicate the number and the purpose of the coding command center to your coding workforce and management teams so they can utilize it easily.

You either can staff the command center phone line and/or have it be a voice recording line that you’ll need to check frequently during each work day. Having a continually staffed hotline within the command center will require consideration as to the impact on daily work requirements, or the necessity of bringing in extra resources to help may be an option. Tracking the calls you receive will be another important aspect to address.

When receiving a call, you’ll want to identify and gather some important elements:

  • Name of caller and location (department, area, or city)
  • Callback number and email
  • Supervisor or manager’s name
  • Category or type of coding issues: alpha or tabular, inpatient diagnosis, inpatient procedure, outpatient diagnosis, documentation, guideline questions, system/IT issue, etc.
  • Level of action needed or status: Urgent = within 24 hours; Immediate = within 48 hours; or Regular = within 3-4 business days
  • Resolution or recommended action (detail, department and person)
  • Intake person: Name and email, time, and date

Regular communications of the call types and their associated actions or resolutions will be a very important piece to include. This then can be summarized on a daily basis and shared with coding management and upper leadership in your practice and/or organization.

In the daily summary, include the number of calls, the type of calls (by category), and resolved calls. at a minimum. Look for patterns or trends with the types of issues and questions you receive. There may be a coding guideline that your staff is struggling with, and this can be resolved quickly and efficiently through a common communication or guidance. Keep in mind that this coding command center process for reporting coding issues and questions may be useful later for developing and providing coding education over the coming 3-6 months. 

Your organization may already have plans for an ICD-10 command center, so reach out to your ICD-10 steering committee and project leads and include this in your final preparatory efforts.


Gloryanne Bryant, RHIA, CDIP, CCS, CCDS, AHIMA-Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer

Gloryanne is a coding and HIM professional with 35 years of experience. She is the past president of the California Health Information Association. Gloryanne is a member of the ICD10monitor editor board and is a popular guest on Talk Ten Tuesdays.

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