How to Use the ICD-10 Delay to Your Advantage

The new ICD-10 compliance date is October 1, 2015, but you won’t want to procrastinate. Use the ICD-10 delay to your advantage, leveraging the extra time you’ve been afforded to ensure success in your transition.
Revisit Your Overarching Transition Plan
Anytime you need to transition from a familiar code set to another you will encounter operational risks. Take advantage of the extra time you have to invest in the planning phase of this project.
You might have switched your focus from ICD-10 preparation to other initiatives, but you will want to keep the momentum going (or get it started, if you had not begun the process yet.) You now have under eleven months to make the transition happen, so use the time to assess your transition plan. As you perform this assessment, look for the following:

  • Aspects of your plan that may have been artificially limited due to perceived time restrictions, which you now can explore fully.
  • Activities that need to be included for this to be a secure changeover.

Reviewing your overarching plan can be incredibly valuable, especially if you get advice from an experienced vendor who can help you identify weak points in your plan.
Evaluate Existing Technology and Vendor Support
Make sure all legacy systems will be supported long beyond the ICD-10 compliance date. Talk to your vendor about the technology’s lifespan and capabilities to ensure your technology is not outdated and inquire about modifications or upgrades to existing technology. Check support dates and service limits.
Prepare Your Staff Through Comprehensive Training
The change from ICD-9 to ICD-10 will undoubtedly affect numerous procedures. Your staff’s preparedness for these changes depends upon the level of training provided; you will want to train to the level that the transition is seamless, reducing any chance of negative impact on daily operations.
In order to pull this off, you will need to start training well before the cutover date and make time for continuous skills practice between now and the transition. According to a well-reputed study on memory, as much as 80 percent of skill or knowledge can be lost if the lag time between training and use of knowledge is a month or longer. Speak to a training expert about the best way to ensure proper training and reinforcement.  Dual coding will help your staff adjust to the new coding procedures and classifications while exposing any confusion and glitches in the system.
Prepare for Expenses
Many hospitals and medical practices skimp on training because they think the costs are too high. Others have lamented the fact that they prepared for the ICD-10 transition early, and now they will need to retrain. However, the extra time may actually save you money in the long run, if you take advantage of the situation.
Yes, upgrading technology can be costly, as is training, but the bigger expense could easily be the negative impact on daily operations if you are not properly prepared.

  • You will want to review your plan regarding the following:
  • Possible financial losses related to DRG (Diagnosis Related Group) shifts
  • Delays in account receivables related to coding problems
  • Establish a line of credit with your bank (See why and how much here)
  • Decreased productivity of staff due to time spent adjusting to new coding
  • If you are also using a new EMR/EHR, time-costs related to adjustment to the new software, especially if you have not invested in adequate training

The delay in ICD-10 is giving you time to anticipate and reduce these potential financial losses or disruptions. This is a case where an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.
Use ICD-10 Data to Improve Analytics
You won’t have to officially report the ICD-10 data for 2014, but having the data available will make it easier to compare future reports, setting you up for improved measurement and management opportunities.
Test, Test and Test Again
Testing will enable you to identify points of concern. Be sure to test with both internal staff and external partners, including clearinghouses and other organizations essential to your operations. Use the extra time to identify and solve potential problems.
The Bottom Line: The ICD-10 Delay Can Actually Work to Your Advantage
You’ve got the opportunity to prepare for the compliance date, so take advantage of the extra time to do the job right. Here at MediPro Inc., we know the industry landscape, and we know what medical practices of all sizes and specialties need. We can give you expert advice, helping you design proper planning and providing adequate training for your staff. The results will be worth the extra effort.