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7 Tips for a Less Stressful ICD-10 Transition

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Here are seven simple ways to prepare your ambulatory surgery center and staff for the ICD-10 switch in 2014.

1. Know what is required. The version of ICD-10 being adopted in the United States is not the same as in other countries. While the World Health Organization collaborated with the U.S. on a specific version for our country, it is not the same as the WHO version used in other countries. If vendors say they are ready for ICD-10 because they downloaded it from the WHO site, they are incorrect. You need ICD-10 PCS for procedure coding, billing of inpatient procedures and reimbursement.

2. Improve physician documentation. Physicians will need to improve clinical documentation on the front end. It will be a much more onerous task for coders to go back and retrieve information they were not provided with originally. Engage medical leadership now and have them strive for more thorough, detailed and complete documentation to ensure a smoother transition.

3. Thoroughly communicate. Share your ICD-10 code interpretation from testing with colleagues to minimize confusion and miscommunication. Involving all the necessary people and thoroughly communicating will cut down on problems once the new system goes lives.

4. Check your EHRs compatibility. If you already have a certified electronic health record system, make sure the ICD-10 upgrade is covered in your contract. Here are some questions to ask your vendor about options and pricing.
•    Will there be additional costs to accommodate ICD-10 codes?
•    Will my contract need to be modified to include ICD-10 codes? What are the terms?

•    Will my system be ICD-10 ready by 2013 so I can begin ICD-10 testing?

•    What level of customer support and training is offered? Are those costs included in the contract?

5. Consult with decision makers in your organization. Any big changes in a healthcare organization will require involvement from all levels of personnel. It's crucial to have executive decision-makers on board to affect any change. Have all necessary people involved from the start to ensure the smoothest, most cost-effective transition. Get their feedback and make sure it's incorporated as much as possible.

6. Think about education and training now. Despite the implementation deadline extension, don't put off employee training. Experts suggest starting education now and working with coders in small increments. Physicians will also need to change the way they document procedures. Starting now can help them slowly adjust until 2014.

7. Prepare for initial glitches. Expect that not everyone will be ready by the implementation date of October 2014, including vendors or payors. Prepare to have to use ICD-9 and ICD-10 simultaneously at first until all parties have completely transitioned.

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Establish 'Normal' Coding Routine to Avoid ICD-10 Productivity Drop


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