As we in the healthcare business know, all healthcare providers must be fully converted to ICD-10 coding by October 2014. There is no time out, no opting out, and no grace periods.
Despite this looming deadline, many providers are not following the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ timeline for conversion. In fact, a recent survey has shown that one in five small to mid-size hospitals have not started any type of training or education program at their facilities. Another survey reports that most physician practices are not actively preparing for ICD-10.
What is causing providers to delay their ICD-10 planning? For many it is simply due to a lack of resources. They are concerned about the loss of coding staff productivity and quality that will result from the planning process. Meanwhile, coders will be required to have enhanced clinical training and biomedical knowledge. This will require an education process that will also hamper productivity.
As a healthcare provider, what are some proactive steps you should take?
1) Follow a formal ICD-10 Transition Plan and Activity List (see AHIMA plan as a guide) http://www.ahima.org/downloads/pdfs/resources/checklist.pdf
2) Partner with a qualified vendor who has an established ICD-10 training program.
3) Partner with a vendor to provide quality outsourced coding services to ensure no loss of productivity during the ICD-10 preparation and transition period.
4) Consider adopting Computer-Assisted Coding (CAC) technology, which can improve quality, productivity and costs of coding in an ICD-10 environment.
By Chris Parfitt, RHIT, Executive Director of HIM Services.