Five Ways to Transition Physicians to ICD-10

April 25, 2013

Fostering physician engagement and training physicians to handle the ICD-10 transition is critical. Here’s how to get your physicians up to speed.

ICD-10 is just around the corner and practices should be rushing to get their staffs, coders, technology, and documentation up-to-speed by October 1, 2014. But that’s not all. Practices should also be fostering physician engagement and training physicians to handle the transition smoothly.

That’s according to Cindy Seel, director of education and training at HRS. During her Tuesday session at the

AHIMA 2013 ICD-10-CM/PCS summit in Baltimore, Seel provided attendees several steps to get physicians prepared for the transition. Here are a few of the highlights:

1. Share your transition plan. Make sure physicians are aware of your practice’s ICD-10 implementation and training plan, said Seel, adding that physicians (and all staff for that matter) should understand, “Where are we going and how we will we get there.” Physician awareness of the training and implementation plan will ensure they understand how much time and dedication the transition will take. It will also ease anxiety associated with the ICD-10 transition, she said. “If you can reassure people, ‘We’ve got a plan,’ that’s going to take some of that fear away.”

2. Foster physician involvement. Encourage physician participation in ICD-10 transition planning and decision-making, said Seel. “Bring physicians in to the table now while you’re planning,” she said. “Find at least one who can spend time and share his perspective during the planning phases.”

3. Provide specialty-specific education. Ensure physician ICD-10 training is tailored to their specific needs, said Seel. “We don’t need to train our physicians to be coders.” To ensure physicians are trained on the right material, she suggests looking through the ICD-10 guidelines to identify those areas most influential to physicians. For primary-care physicians. focusing training on the 10 diagnosis codes most commonly used will be helpful, she said. “Break it down by specialty, pinpoint changes, and give them some examples they can hold on to.”

4. Identify documentation issues. Make sure physicians are knowledgeable about ICD-10 documentation changes. That will reduce the need for coders to initiate physician queries due to documentation related issues, such as missing information, said Seel. “If we can decrease the number of times coders have to stop and go ask physicians, you will increase productivity.”

5. Train in smart ways. Once training needs are outlined, it’s time to come up with a training plan. Try to break physician training and education into small digestible pieces, said Seel. As far as training methods go, consider what training approach worked in your practice in the past and match ICD-10 training to that. Also, ask physicians how they would like to be trained. “Take time and say, ‘What’s going to work best for you, what’s your concern, what’s the level of detail you need?’” said Seel. “You have to know what works for your physicians.”

For more of Seel’s tips, listen to this podcast from the AHIMA 2013 ICD-10-CM/PCS summit.