Five Reasons Your ICD-10 Project Starts Today

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As everyone in the healthcare field knows, there’s a new “Code Sheriff” coming to town, and it’s known as ICD-10 for short.

The International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, more than doubles the number of codes of its predecessor ICD-9. The switch to ICD-10 is not like the half-hearted attempt in the 1970s to move the US to the metric system. By October 1, 2014, every healthcare-related organization in the United States will be using ICD-10, that is if a current proposal to postpone the date from Oct. 1, 2013, is implemented. But regardless of whether ICD-10 comes in 2013 or 2014, if you haven’t begun your migration plan, you’re already running late.

The financial impact of your ICD-10 migration will be expensive, as a recent article at insidePatientFinance.com demonstrates. But if you start now, that impact will be reduced and stretched over two years instead of one.


Five Reasons Your ICD-10 Project Starts Today

Here are five reasons why, if you haven’t started your ICD-10 migration project, it starts today.

1. It’s the law.

No, it’s not the law that you have to start the implementation project today, but the regulations are in place that give you no choice but to adopt it, at least if you want to be reimbursed by Medicare or Medicaid or any other federal health care program. As your mother taught you, don’t put off tomorrow what you do today.

2. It will affect everyone.

Implementation of ICD-10 will have a broader impact on your organization than almost any other initiative in the next two years. While it obviously will affect your coding staff, your clinical staff will also feel the impact. Because the sheer number of codes is growing, your clinical staff will be required to provide more and better documentation. Your IT staff will be called upon to find and implement new computer assisted coding tools to reduce the inevitable inefficiency of your staff once the codes are in place.

3. It will affect revenue cycle staff the most.

Coding is where the revenue cycle begins for many hospitals and other healthcare organizations, but they are not the only ones affected. When an initiative of this magnitude gets implemented, who suffers the most? The people who bill and collect revenue. If the physician fails to provide enough documentation, if the coding staff mixes up code, if the software coding management tool is buggy, it will be that much harder to manage the revenue cycle or even collect fees for service. Revenue cycle managers and staff need to be one of the biggest cheerleaders for ICD-10 conversion, if not significant drivers to see that their respective facility is ready for the switchover.

4. The people you do business with may not be as prepared as you.

As you negotiate new contracts that extend into Fiscal 2014, you need to begin discussions with your vendors, partners, and payers to make certain they will be ICD-10 compliant by the deadline, and if they are not, include penalties for failing to perform. Why should your payment be delayed or have services held up because they weren’t as ready as you were?

5. It will take time to find people who can help you.

You will likely need outside help to migrate to ICD-10. Many consultancies are already doing a land-office business, and the deadline is more than two years away. Also, despite your best efforts, you still may not be ready by the deadline, or you will find that your coding staff and others are unable to keep up. One option is to outsource your coding overflow, but you need to start seeking these partners today because they will be in short supply the closer we get to the Oct. 1, 2014 deadline.

John Owen is the Director of Client Development at DECA Financial Services. Email him at jowen@decafinancialservices.com
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Posted in Denials Management, Medical Receivables, Patient Financial Services, Revenue Integrity .

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