June 30, 2014

Working with your Practice Management System Vendor Ensures a Successful Transition to ICD-10


Whether you were annoyed or relieved by the announcement of another delayed implementation of ICD-10, the benefit of having additional time to ensure a smooth transition can work to your favor. The expertise that is held by your practice management system (PMS) vendor is a key component that can contribute to a smooth transition.

Many PMS vendors have integrated ICD-10 within their systems, so these vendors are ready and have the ability to test now. You likely have been getting updates from your vendor, but if not, make sure to communicate with your vendor right away. It is important to know where the vendor stands in terms of readiness, what support is available, and whether they are offering other resources such as training, project timelines, etc. The most important aspect of preparedness is end-to-end testing, which is the process of testing applicable products, operating rules, or transactions through the entire business exchange cycle.

Being on the same page about end-to-end testing is critical. The role a PMS vendor plays in getting files “tested” varies from vendor to vendor, depending on the whether they are serving as a middleman with the claims clearinghouse or submitting directly to the payer.

Meaningful use created a dual priority with ICD-10. It changes the timeline, so anyone who participates should have ICD-10 functionality well in advance. Have you made the necessary upgrades to your system to ensure that you will be ready for ICD-10? The legislation is written so it will not allow for dual coding. While very few PMS vendors hard-coded the Oct. 1, 2014 date, you will want to make sure your system will not automatically switch over to ICD-10 on that date. Most systems had a flexible date, but it is handled differently from vendor to vendor. Check with your vendor to understand how this will work in your system.

”Practice management vendors want to work with their clients to ensure a successful transition,” said Tim McMullen, executive director for the Healthcare Administrative Technology Association (HATA). “Our members generally have a full protocol in place for assisting their clients with the ICD-10 transition, and some utilize their users groups for addressing ICD-10-related issues.”

What are some other things that you can do to ensure a clean transition? Train the clinical staff to quit using non-specific codes today! This bad habit may be hard to break, but staffers won’t be able to get away with this style of coding under ICD-10. Create excellent coding habits now rather than waiting until the last minute. And speaking of training – put together a training calendar. You will need some generalized overview training for both physicians and staff, but then you will need to drill down into the specifics of your specialty types. There are some basic things that can be taught early on, as mechanically, ICD-10 is very similar to ICD-9. But the devil is in the details. Clinical documentation of diagnostic codes is essential.

About the Author

Tim McMullen is executive director of the Healthcare Administrative Technology Association.

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Tim McMullen, JD, CAE

Tim McMullen is executive director of the Cooperative Exchange.

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