August 31, 2015

Thirty Days and Counting: You Can Make it Happen


With only 30 days left until ICD-10 implementation, many in the healthcare industry are starting to get nervous.

There are ways to ensure that you are prepared on time, but practices need to move fast. Here’s how you can make it happen.


Everyone in your office, clinic, or facility will need some form of ICD-10-CM education. An educational plan will allow for a timeline, ensuring that everyone gets what they need at the right time.

Obviously, not everyone can receive education at the same time. Depending on the size of your practice, a planned and coordinated effort may be required to guarantee training for everyone (front-office staff, nursing staff, coding/billing staff, providers, management, etc.).

The first step is to separate the staff into training groups (like those listed above) and decide how much training each group needs. Then, look at your resources and options to decide how you will deliver the training (on-site consulting, live training outside the office, train-the-trainer, or a combination of methods). Finally, set a schedule for who will get trained at what time.

Assign individuals or teams to oversee the implementation efforts, including available internal resources and any outsourced resources needed.

Assess all areas of the practice and determine what has to change with an in-depth impact analysis, including documentation evaluations.

Prepare for the changes by updating processes and policies and creating needed training materials. Begin changes with all vendors and outside partners.

Train staff and providers on the changes necessary for ICD-10, including new policies and processes, code set training, software upgrades, anatomy and pathophysiology for ICD-10, and specificity requirements.

Test all changes for ICD-10 prior to implementation and verify at least 90 percent accuracy in documentation and coding. Chances are that most of your vendors have closed testing, but not to worry – reach out to user groups, clearinghouses, and other vendors to find out about lessons learned, and gain the insight of those who have tested.

Keep in mind that your work is not done on Oct. 1. Evaluate the implementation results, including review of denied claims, documentation, and coding accuracy. Analyze all changes and look for gaps between expectations and actual results to identify areas needing additional adjustments, then implement those adjustments.

Oct. 2 will be just as important to us in the industry, so it is essential that you manage your days in A/R to determine where you may be failing before any loss in revenue becomes problematic in your practice.

With only about 30 days to go, we must move quickly to make sure we are prepared. All of the steps listed above can be accomplished in the remaining 30 days.

But hurry. Time is running out.


Rhonda Buckholtz has more than 25 years of experience in healthcare, working in the management, reimbursement, billing, and coding sectors, in addition to being an instructor. She was responsible for all ICD-10 training and curriculum at AAPC. She has authored numerous articles for healthcare publications and has spoken at numerous national conferences for AAPC, AMA, HIMSS, AAO-HNS, AGA and ASOA. She is a past co-chair for the WEDI ICD-10 Implementation Workgroup, and current co-chair of the Advanced Payment Models Workgroup and has provided testimony ongoing for ICD-10 and standardization of data for NCVHS. Rhonda is on the board of ICD Monitor and the AAPC National Advisory Board. Rhonda spends her time as chief compliance officer and on practice optimization providing transformational services and revenue integrity for Ophthalmology practices. She was instrumental in developing the Certified Ophthalmology Professional Coder (COPC) exam and curriculum for the AAPC.

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