Even if your practice is all set for the transition to ICD-10 in October, you won't succeed unless your vendors are ready too.
But assessing whether your vendors are ICD-10 ready is a challenge in itself. It's hard to know the right questions to ask or what to expect.
We put together this quick guide to help you check-in with your vendors – whether they’re your EHR provider or your practice management software company. Wherever you are in the ICD-10 prep process, use these tips to make sure your vendors are on target.
Start talking to your vendors about the ICD-10 transition now, if you haven’t already. The more open you are with your vendors, the better chance you have of conveying your practice needs and expectations and understanding what your vendors have planned. Every specialty has different requirements, and your vendors are more likely to be prepared if they know your concerns about the ICD-10 transition ahead of time.
Ask for deadlines and then track progress.
Ask your vendor for their timeline with dates for milestones like:
- When they're beginning beta-testing
- When software will be ready for you to start your own ICD-10 testing
- When they will have training and education resources ready
Ask for firm dates and then track the vendor's progress. If they're not hitting those early milestones, ask how that will affect their overall plan and the release date of the final product.
Communicate your own timelines.
What about your own preparations for ICD-10? What goals and milestones do you have? Sharing your own plans with your vendor can give them a better idea of how much support you might need, or when the final product needs to be delivered.
Check on training.
As you probably already know too well, implementing a new software or tool into your practice takes a lot more than just a straight installation. Staff will need time and training with any new tools before things are running smoothly. Ask your vendors how much support they'll provide during the implementation process. Will they have online tutorials, webinars, one-on-one calls or in-person sessions with their support team?
Discuss a contingency plan.
If something goes wrong, or they fall behind, what will the vendor do? As the inevitable questions or problems arise as your staff is using the product, how should you submit your queries? How quickly will your vendors respond?
Get a total for all the associated costs – in writing.
Your vendors should not only be able to tell you what upgrades, new hardware, or training packages you might need, but how much everything will cost and when you’ll need to pay. This is a crucial part of budgeting your ICD-10 transition expenses and tracking your overall revenue cycle management. When you ask for this total, make sure you get it in writing, instead of depending on a quote from a sales person.
Keeping ICD-9 in the picture.
In order to do your own ICD-10 testing, you’ll need access to both ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes. Your vendors should know this. Check with them on what supports they’ll provide for cross-walking ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes. Do any new upgrades still allow access to ICD-9? Will they continue to support any versions or software that’s discontinued in the wake of the transition? Also, does their system have any built-in help for learning the new codes (like suggesting relevant ICD-10 codes based on patient data?) Your vendors should be aware that a transition is just that, and should have plans in place to allow you access to both code sets as you test and train.
If you follow these tips and pose all of these questions to your vendors, you should have a clear picture on whether they’re ready for the ICD-10 deadline. If you’re not there yet, schedule a call or send a note to your vendors now to set-up a discussion. The sooner you’re on the same page, the better your ICD-10 transition is likely to go.