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How to Handle the ICD-10 Deadline Change

On April 1, 2014, President Barack Obama signed the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, which postpones the compliance deadline for the change from ICD-9 to ICD-10 coding until October 1, 2015 or later. No definite deadline has been declared yet, but an extension has been granted.
You Had Not Begun Transitioning to ICD-10 Codes
It’s tempting to sit back on your laurels, especially with the pressure to upgrade EHR/EMR software to meet Meaningful Use Stage 1 and 2 requirements. This is the time to review your budget and make sure it includes the expenses required. You’ll want to plan to prepare for the ICD-10 coding changes starting in the last quarter of 2014, and you will want to assume that the deadline will be October 1st of 2105, not any later. That should give you sufficient time to prepare for the new deadline.
You Had Begun Transitioning to ICD-10 Codes, But Have Not Tested Yet
If your ICD-10 training is underway, you will want to continue your training and begin practice dual coding. If you are ready to engage in ICD-10 testing, proceed. It won’t hurt you to dual code and be prepared ahead of time. However, delaying preparing and getting sidetracked can hurt you if the delay prevents you from meeting the deadline.
Check in with clearinghouses and payers to see who might be ready to test coding with you. By testing now, you will discover and eliminate coding change problems in plenty of time to get additional training and to make corrections. You’ll also find out which of your partners (vendors, payers) are prepared and which are not. By initiating testing, you will ensure everyone in the chain is ready when the deadline rolls around.
You Have Already Prepared For and Tested for ICD-10 Coding
If you are ready for the transition, keep dual coding. If you stop dual coding, your staff will lose knowledge, and you’ll have to retrain in a year or so. Then you’ll end up spending even more money and time on training. By practicing, your staff will remain prepared.
If you have not yet tackled the Meaningful Use challenge, check to see if you are eligible for incentive payments from Medicaid and Medicare. The year 2014 is a big one for health care providers; you can take advantage of this by qualifying for incentive payments and avoiding future payment reductions.
Staying On Top of the ICD-10 Deadline
For the most current and official news about the ICD-10 deadline, check in with both theCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and theDepartment of Health & Human Services (DHHS) websites. At some point a final rule will be posted, giving the new ICD-10 deadline.
In the meantime, you will want to:

  1. Assess the use of diagnosis codes in your practice. Figure out how much of a change this coding change will be for your staff.
  2. Evaluate your clinical documentation processes. Compare your current documentation processes with the expectations set by ICD-10 coding requirements. If you do not use electronic medical records yet, you will want to invest in EHR/EMR or MP (Medical Practice) software right away. Manually transitioning all the ICD-9 codes to ICD-10 codes will be incredibly overwhelming, time consuming, and wasteful without software to aid you in the process.
  3. Talk to your vendors and partners to find out how prepared they are for the change. Ask your EHR/EMR vendors how they can help you prepare.
  4. Set up testing with all partners, including billing vendors, clearinghouses, payers and insurers. Be sure to test every aspect of your coding to make sure you are truly prepared for the transition when it goes into effect.

Take advantage of the deadline delay and use the extra time to become thoroughly prepared. This extra time can make the difference between a hurried transition fraught with mistakes and a smooth transition.
How MediPro Can Help
As medical records experts, we recommend that you take the following steps:
Invest in an EHR/EMR system that is Meaningful Use Stage 2 Certified
At this time, only about 80 systems are Stage 2 certified, and you’ll want to use software that will prepare you both for coding changes and enable you to qualify for Meaningful Use incentive payments. Keep an eye on systems like IMS and McKesson, both of which will be announcing certification in the near future.
Choose Software that Provides a Top Notch Patient Portal
One of the Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements is the use of a patient portal. IMS, Lytec and McKesson systems all provide patient portals that will qualify for MU Stage 2.
Upgrade to a Positioning EHR
This is the new standard for electronic medical office software. A positioning EHR system will increase patient engagement, enable Health Insurance Exchange participation, and protect you against the (Medicare reimbursement) penalties that will be levied against medical practices that are not using certified software.
Evaluate Your Claims Transmissions Capabilities
We recommend RelayHealth by McKesson product, the most tightly integrated clearinghouse for electronic claims transmissions using Lytec PM. Our flexible pricing options make it possible for medical practices of all sizes to benefit from this product.
Automate Your Patient Statement Service
We recommend BillFlash, an automated patient statement service by Mail, eBill, ePay and OfficePay.  You can learn more about BillFlash here, including a definition of each function. If you act quickly promotion, you can get 60 days of free BillFlash service (also includes a free card reader). This promotion is good until May 31st.
Improve Your Scheduling System
Lytec PM offers Campaign Manager, a Internet-based system that syncs with Lytec PM’s scheduling and generates automated appointment reminders. It can also distribute messages regarding follow ups, general announcements, etc. without tying up a phone line.
Mobile Enable Your System
You’ll want to check out Lytec Mobile for the iPhone and IMSGo, which works with both iPhones and Android phones.
Prepare for Outages
Storm season is just around the corner, which is why we recommend you install iGuard right away to protect your electronic medical records. iGuard is a MediPro provided backup service. Learn more about protecting your office with iGuard here.
Contact MediPro to Discuss Your Options
Need to update your software for ICD-10 coding?Contact us and we’ll help you figure out what your medical practice needs to get ready for the changes ahead.

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