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Countdown to ICD-10: 7 Last-minute Tips

Posted by Teresa Iafolla

ICD-10 is just a couple weeks away, but is your practice ready for the big coding changes? If you feel like you’re not quite there yet, you’re not alone. According to an August 2015 study by Porter Research 85% of healthcare practitioner respondents believe they will be ready for the deadline, but 57% said they weren’t on track at the moment.

The ICD-10 deadline is looming, but there is still time to implement the changes needed to make the transition easier on you and your employees. Prevent hiccups in your billing and reimbursement cycles and keep up productivity with these seven last-minute tips.

  1. Train, train, and train some more.

    Something as complex as ICD-10 coding needs more than just a session or a day of training to implement into day-to-day operations in your practice. As soon as possible, start dual-coding on a few claims a day to get in the hang of the new requirements. Don’t bog yourself down by trying to dual-code every single patient file; even just a little practice every day from now until that ICD-10 deadline will be a major help to you and your employees.

  2. Learn the basics before launching headfirst.

    With October coming up, you’re probably in cramming mode. But even so, you need to start with the basics. List out the minimum things you need to know and start there. Focus on learning a wider range of ICD-10 intricacies as you go along so you don’t overwhelm yourself or your employees upfront. You’ll get there.

  3. Create cheat sheets for all billing employees.

    To help with training, create cheat sheets with some of the most common codes (say the top 10% to 20% of diagnoses and procedures) you will use. Give a copy to each staff member for reference. Cheat sheets can help keep productivity up – so you don’t have to go digging through that long list of ICD-10 codes. As your start to really get familiar with ICD-10, don’t be afraid to go back and make some changes to that cheat sheet, if they’re needed.

  4. Develop templates to boost productivity.

    Many EHRs will let you build templates for procedures, claims, and other documentation. Create templates with all the information you’ll need for the most common ICD-10 codes, including things like laterality, chronic or acute/subacute, and whether the issue is recurrent. With the right templates available, you can streamline your workflow even through the coding transition.

  5. Examine and adjust workflows where needed.

    Some practices will adopt new software that can help with the new coding procedures, while others might try to maintain the same workflows as before. Whether or not you decide to make any major changes, examine your workflows to see how the new coding might fit in and/or change them. Engage all employees whose workflows might be impacted, and discuss whether any adjustments might be necessary.

  6. Ensure coding systems can perform all necessary tasks.

    Regardless of what type of coding system you use within your workflow, ensure that it can:

    • Generate a claim
    • Schedule an outpatient procedure
    • Perform eligibility and benefits verification
    • Prepare to submit quality data, schedule an office visit
    • Update a patient’s history and problems
    • Code a patient encounterIf you’re missing any of these crucial steps, consult a billing or coding expert to update your coding system so it can accomplish each step of your workflow.
  7. Work out a contingency plan.

    Even if you’re feeling good about the transition, chances are something will go wrong at some point. You could face claim denials, system failures, coding mistakes, and other issues related to lack of experience with the new coding requirements. Having a plan in place for who to talk to, how to get your questions answered, what documentation might be needed, how you will continue to pay your bills if reimbursements are delayed, and so forth will save you a lot of time and hassle after the deadline.

With these seven tips, make the most of the weeks you have left before ICD-10 takes effect. Better late than never! A little preparation can go a long way to ensure you maintain your billing and reimbursement schedules and improve employee productivity.

Teresa Iafolla

About Teresa Iafolla

Teresa Iafolla is an expert writer, researcher, and content wrangler who has previously worked as director of content marketing for a telehealth company and associate editor for a healthcare publishing company.

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