Top 5 ICD-10 Considerations That You Haven't Thought About

November 11, 2013

ICD-10 at its very core is a test of your practice and its agility. Here's what you should consider in making the transition.

I don't know if it was the cold in the air, but the one-year anniversary to next October’s ICD-10 deadline has changed the conversation from concerned to borderline terrified for many of this country’s medical practices. It's not like this deadline has taken anyone by surprise, but nonetheless the potential of delay has continued to keep enough of the fear at arm’s length … until now!

While ICD-10 comes with it a number of regulations, and the inherent elements of negativity, there are five immediate considerations that come to mind that you likely did not think of around ICD-10. Do you have others that are not listed below? Let's take a closer look.

#1: Rethinking your business model

Who are you? What business structure are you creating, and what are you doing to hire to that structure? When I speak with practices, it feels like a daily occasion where I preach the benefits of using transitional periods to creating beneficial change within the practice. In simpler terms - do not waste an opportunity!

Moments like ICD-10 present that long awaited reason to enact long-desired changes within the practice. Who doesn’t hold a desire for becoming a truly agile organization? With the associated changes, a restructuring of the business to one that is heavily focused on the patient relationship, is a tremendous opportunity to veer away from the existing order-to-pay operations.

#2: Embracing internal positions

If we are rethinking the business model, where better to start than looking internally at the positions that make up the practice? In fact, I've mentioned previously that too many existing practices are simply built for the status quo. Disagree with it if you may, but the bottom line is that there are very few practices that could excel in a new regulations/compliance society with the existing personnel and infrastructure.

If we consider that all independent practices in this country are small businesses at their very core, then we too must treat all employees with the idea that they have a potential to drive business alongside serving multiple positions internally. It's not asking employees to necessarily do more, but instead it is providing an opportunity to have them think differently and enable a team that is more agile in its approach.

#3: Leveraging data in a way you never dreamed

What are the greatest opportunities in your practice? You might be shocked to find that they might be right under your chin in the numbers that are hidden within your patients. At some point in the future, big data will help alter the decision-making process. Until that point, the ability to leverage data from electronic records and paper charts may be the difference between a business-making and a business-sinking decision.

I've heard of practices that have included a survey along with patient follow-up in order to gain a snapshot or pulse of the patient base. I've also heard of practice managers who have coordinated with physicians on potential new offering concepts based on overheard feedback. In either case, the bottom line is the discussion around the patient experience, and how creating a greater connection with the patient base can result in redefining the patient-provider relationship. Time to find an information analyst.

#4: New technology adoption opportunities

If I had to paint practices with a broad brush, I would suggest that the majority of today's practices likely have a piece of technological hardware that is not being used as effectively as possible. It’s true, that dust-covered mobile device from 2011 may still have some use for the practice. More importantly, there’s likely a software or app subscription that has a small, monthly payment, but a great deal of use for helping market the practice.

As part of any re-examination following a change, take a technological audit of the practice in order to gain a better idea of the software and hardware that is on hand, and that which is needed to optimize the practice.

#5: Positive mentality around accomplishment and change

I put this one last on the list, but it is definitely not the least. ICD-10 at its very core is a test of your practice and its agility. Once you begin making the transition and start testing these new codes, give yourself a pat on the back and recognize that you are one who is thriving and not just surviving. Take consideration to the fact that such a transition would be previously more challenging and taxing. With a positive attitude both before and after ICD-10's October 2014 deadline, you can turn change into opportunity!