7 Steps for Surgery Centers to Prepare for ICD-10

At the 19th Annual Ambulatory Surgery Centers Conference in Chicago on Oct. 26, 2012, Kevin McDonald, senior vice president of sales, Revenue Cycle Solutions Division at SourceMedical Solutions, gave a presentation about the benefits of ICD-10 and described seven steps for surgery centers to prepare for the transition.

"There is a lot more work that has to be done on a lot of facets of the codes," said Mr. McDonald. "We are going from 14,000 codes to more than 69,000 codes, which is going to be astronomical when we look at the coding that will be involved."

Benefits of the ICD-10 transition include alignment of the United States with the rest of the world, greater code specificity and measuring quality that will help with conducting research, setting health policy and strategic planning for the delivery system. The new system was also designed to prevent healthcare fraud and abuse.

Here are the seven steps to prepare for ICD-10:

•    Start anatomy and physiology training for coders
•    Start training physicians on documentation
•    Talk to your vendors about their transition plans
•    Talk to commercial payors about their transition plans
•    Make contingency plans for workers' compensation
•    Follow the "day in the life" of a diagnosis code
•    Consider outsourcing coding and billing functions

"This transition will expand the amount of time surgeons have to spend on documentation," said Mr. McDonald. "Surgeons will fight you on it, but they need to do it if they want to get paid."

Workers' compensation is exempt from ICD-10, meaning they will continue on ICD-9. If your surgery center treats a large volume of workers' compensation patients, be prepared to work in ICD-9 and ICD-10 at the same time. For some surgery centers, the complexity of this transition or the retirement of current coders might mean outsourcing these functions will be easier and more cost-effective.

"If you are thinking about outsourcing, do it today and lock in a long term contract," said Mr. McDonald. "There are a lot of unknowns. We are concerned that costs will go up, and if you can get a billing services group to enter into a long term agreement with you, you could come out very well."

If the surgery center keeps coders in-house, they will have to train them and raise their salaries as a result of the certification.

Related Articles on Coding, Billing and Collections:
10 Strategies for Effective Payor Negotiations
What Are the Major Disputes With Out of Network Payors?
7 Best Practices to Reevaluate the Revenue Cycle

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