Incorporating the Holiday Season into ICD-10 Prep

December 23, 2014

Stepping up ICD-10 preparations should be a top 2015 resolution for many medical practices. Here are four tips.

During this busy holiday season, emphasis is placed on returning to seasonal traditions, celebrating year-end holidays, and preparing to welcome 2015. For your practice, one of your biggest priorities in preparing for 2015 should be preparing for the ICD-10 transition. Here are four ways to leverage the energy of the holiday season to set the stage for ICD-10 success:

1. Brace for a bumpy ride
ICD-10 has a code, V00.221A, which documents a patient’s “fall from a sled.” While that new level of code detail seems hard to believe, it is true that this code may be right around the corner for use in someone’s holiday accident medical write up.

For most practices, the shift to ICD-10 will be as real as a bumpy (and perhaps disastrous) sleigh ride. Now is the critical time to direct your data tools and business intelligence to uncover where and how those disruptions will happen. Leverage the reporting and analytics in your PM and EHR systems to find most commonly used codes, and the most commonly-denied codes. These first diagnostic steps are critical to planning changes and updates to work flows at your practice.

2. Resolve to "get in shape" for ICD-10
Like the New Year’s resolutions many people adopt after holiday festivities, merrymaking, and overindulgence, practices should also seize the day to “get in shape” to prepare for ICD-10. Set a goal, plan milestones, and assess which areas need work. Define the steps to address the issues at hand, just as you would any physical fitness goal.

Also, getting a practice into shape requires partnership and community. ICD-10 readiness is a matter of teamwork, both inside and outside the practice, because it affects everyone - patients, providers, and vendors. Everyone will thrive or struggle together in proportion to how hard they worked to prepare. Leverage the spirit of the season and conspire with your trading partners in the industry to work cooperatively toward goals and milestones in testing plans for the betterment of everyone.

3. Celebrate successes and milestones
Because it’s also a time of year to celebrate, use the end of the year (and the upcoming New Year) to weave in a little bit of fun.

Have you recently met an ICD-10 preparedness plan milestone? Celebrate and invite trading partners to join in, to strengthen working relationships among people in the organizations. Oh, and should the reveling go overboard, ICD-10 has the perfect code to use: R49.8 “other voice and resonance disorders,” which exists for those weary celebratory vocal chords.

4. Prepare for stormy weather 
The ICD-10 X37 "cataclysmic storm" is a broad category of codes for documenting storm-related injuries. Another ICD-10 code, X37.2XXA, covers injuries resulting from a “Blizzard (snow) (ice).”

When facing the potential “blizzard” of preparedness tasks for ICD-10, it’s important to break the process down into small chunks to manage the feeling of being overwhelmed. Now is the time to actually invest time and money to figure out what you need to do (and have) to be prepared. Do you need staff with additional expertise? Who needs to be involved in testing transactions, and getting familiar with the huge new volume of ICD-10 codes?

Discover where and how your practice will need support and how to best make those changes so 2015 can be a smooth transition with lots of rehearsals, rather than a chaotic shift.

Michael Bearnson works in the Medical Business Solutions center of excellence at ADP AdvancedMD and has functioned as the ICD-10 project manager for the past two years.  He has over 20 years of experience with business process improvement.  Follow him on Twitter at @ICD10Posse.