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Six ICD-10 Transition Tips for Medical Practices


It can be difficult to determine how to prepare for the transition to ICD-10. Here are some tips.

All practices should be preparing for the upcoming ICD-10 transition on October 1, 2014. But it can be difficult to determine how to get started.

During her recent presentation at the AHIMA 2013 ICD-10-CM/PCS and Computer-Assisted Coding (CAC) Summit in Baltimore, Cassi Birnbaum, vice president of health information management at Peak Health Solutions, shared some of her key tips for how health systems can meet the operational challenges associated with the ICD-10 transition. Here are a few of her tips that are most applicable to medical practices:

1. Identify strong leadership. Make sure your practice has a strong leadership team in place that will be able to devote adequate time and resources to transition planning and preparation. “I think the problem many organizations have reported to me is that they don’t have a dedicated project leader,” said Birnbaum. “You need a project manager that’s dedicated to ICD-10 that can really assure that all of those tasks, all of those work streams, are really getting done.”

2. Foster engagement. Since ICD-10 is not a “sexy” topic and it’s likely competing for attention amidst a number of other initiatives, it can be challenging to get physicians, leadership, and staff engaged in the transition process, said Birnbaum. Still, she said, health systems need to do all they can to foster that engagement. “We can speak until we’re blue in the face but we need to get engagement of the various key roles and key players involved in this.” One way to increase engagement? Make ICD-10 meaningful to each individual involved in the transition - especially to physicians, said Birnbaum. Try to address the “what’s in it for me” factor, she said. 

3. Shift perspectives. Encourage staff and physicians to view the transition to ICD-10 as an opportunity to improve operations and work flow. “Demonstrate how to achieve operational improvements in course of ICD-10 operational activities,” said Birnbaum. Also, use the transition as an opportunity to retool clinical documentation improvement efforts and identify a more “holistic approach” that addresses all patient populations, she said. “What we want out of this is a smooth work flow, improved data management, and minimal financial interruption.”

4. Get specific. Have a broad ICD-10 transition plan, but make sure you break that plan down into small manageable and measurable tasks with clear outcomes and accountabilities, said Birnbaum. “If you have high-level roadmap, you need to go from the 10,000-foot level to the ground floor.”

5. Educate right. Try not to overwhelm staff with ICD-10 education. Keep training specific and tailor it to each individual’s needs, said Birnbaum. “You need to customize the content to the learner.” Also, be reasonable about training expectations.  Physicians, for instance, “don’t need a heavy dose” of training, and their training sessions should last no longer than 30 minutes, she said.

6. Budget appropriately. Make sure your practice budgets smart for the ICD-10 transition, including accounting for any training or technology needs. “Many organizations, they’ve reported that even though they had a decent budget prior to the delay, those monies were reallocated,” said Birnbaum. “That is a recipe for disaster.”  


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