Can you hear that clock ticking? Relax, you are probably in better shape for the transition to the ICD-10 coding system than you think you are. Medicare's last round of end-to-end testing went well—87 percent of claims were accepted, and at least some of the rejected claims were due to errors in using the testing system, CMS reports. That's the good news.
The bad news is that survey results are still showing that lots of providers haven't tested. In these last few weeks, if at all possible, test at least your most-used codes if it’s not too late to get your payers to let you test, advised Fletcher Lance, vice president and national healthcare leader at consulting firm North Highland. "It's not easy getting the teacher to cooperate with you when you're late for the test," he said. Even if there isn't time for testing, you still have almost a month to fill any gaps in your readiness, but as Lance, puts it, "When it comes to [ICD-10] preparation, we are in triage now."
With that in mind, we asked Tammie Olson of Management Resource Group, a firm offering financial management and support services for the healthcare community, for a few tips on what it's not already too late to do in preparing for ICD-10. Here are her suggestions:
•Narrow the focus of your training. Identify the top 50 codes for your specialty and get to know them well. ICD-10 is a big bruiser, but any given practice will have regular need for only a small portion of it. Your success in this brave new coding world will largely depend on how well you handle your fifty most used codes. If you and your staff do not know them intimately yet, double down on this. If you do, good for you! Now go back and practice again.
•Make sure you have identified any areas that will need ICD-10 codes—things such as lab requests, referrals, and document supply orders—and make sure they are up to date and ready to go.
•Talk to your vendors and make sure your clearinghouse is ready.
And if things go wrong, make sure there is someone to turn to for help. Just last week, CMS designated William Rogers, MD, director of the Physicians Regulatory Issues Team at CMS, as ombudsman for the ICD-10 transition. In this role, Rogers will work closely with representatives in CMS' regional offices to address problems and concerns as ICD-10 goes live. Olson advises visiting the CMS website for information on how to submit issues to the ombudsman.
If you're not ready for ICD-10, it's not (quite) too late. Just be sure you make the wisest use of the time you have left.