Collaborating with your EHR Vendor for ICD-10 Success

August 21, 2015

If you don’t think your practice will be ready to transition to ICD-10 by Oct. 1, partnering with your EHR vendor is one strategy to employ.

If you’re not worried about the transition to ICD-10 on Oct.1, you certainly should be, said Meeta Pancholi, a podiatrist in Hazleton, Penn. “There’s really no alternative to getting ready for ICD-10. The only real alternatives are not getting paid and retirement,” she said.

What’s your plan for ensuring a successful transition to ICD-10? Is working closely with your EHR vendor a part of your game plan? It should be. Here are three ways your EHR vendor can help.

Plan well and get comfortable with new workflows       

Pancholi’s practice has been working with its EHR vendor for about a year - it started as her practice transitioned to SNOMED (Systemized Nomenclature of Medicine). That was her introduction to the language that’s going to become the coding for ICD-10, she said.

Since the transition to SNOMED, her practice has worked with their EHR vendor to map to the diagnosis codes they’ll use most often within ICD-10. Both administrative and medical staff have practiced working with ICD-10 codes. Their EHR provider is providing real-time feedback in terms of the practice’s ICD-10 readiness.

Capture specific patient information in the EHR at the beginning

As a podiatrist, Pancholi cares primarily about specific parts of the body. Thus, she needed to be able to figure out how to drill down on the appropriate parts of the body while navigating through a particular patient’s encounter within the EHR. She also had to become comfortable with the new workflows within the EHR.

A year in, she said she’s a lot more comfortable with the new workflows and she’s confident that the transition to ICD-10 will be successful. What helps is the medical assistants on her team have also been coached on capturing as much information as possible at the beginning of the patient encounter and getting that information into the EHR.

“Our medical assistants have to be very precise about what [body part] they’re looking at,” said Pancholi. It’s not about the fact that the patient hurt the front or back of her leg. Medical assistants have to be very specific about what they’re looking at when they see a patient and communicate about the specific muscle group, she said.

Capturing information at this level of specificity at the beginning of the patient encounter also helps with billing, since the billing team will have the information they need to code the encounter at the appropriate level, said Pancholi.

Collaborate with your EHR vendor on the ICD-10 transition

Pancholi’s practice is fee-for-service, and that means her claims will plummet if there’s a problem with how patient visits are coded. In her conversations with colleagues at other practices, she said they’ve have been told by their EHR vendors and consultants to put in escrow as much as six-to-eight months of revenue to prepare for the drop in paid claims after transitioning to ICD-10.

A lot of practices can’t afford to bank that much money to prepare for the ICD-10 transition. What’s been crucial for Pancholi’s practice? Having a guarantee from her EHR vendor that they’re working closely with payers. Also, it has received coaching from the vendor for the medical and administrative staff on the best way to transition to ICD-10, she said.

The fact that her EHR vendor has been providing rolling updates on testing efforts with insurers also gives her peace of mind that the transition to ICD-10 will be a smooth one. According to Pancholi, her EHR vendor has a vested interest in ensuring her practice’s successful transition to ICD-10, and that makes her very confident that her practice won’t experience a change in revenue.