The delay in the implementation of ICD-10 has been frustrating for some and a relief for others. For many healthcare practices, especially the smaller ones in rural areas, the delay has brought relief. No matter how you have reacted in your own facility to this constantly changing timeline, you should not kid yourself about the future. The transition is coming and ICD-10 cannot be avoided.
Bedrock Reality: ICD-10 Will Be Implemented
Some people have fooled themselves into thinking that this latest classification system for medical coding will be superseded by another iteration of the coding system, ICD-11. So much time has passed since the original start date, these providers believe, that the new format for disease classification is now outdated and that their time will be better spent preparing for ICD-11.
Actually, behind the scenes but not in secret, CMS has been continuing to adjust and update the ICD-10 codes. They are not out of date, and there does not appear to be any inclination on the part of CMS to jump over this new coding system and go straight to ICD-11.
Healthcare facilities and medical practices around the country, whether they feel themselves ready for implementation or not, must accept the reality that is coming their way. Even if the government does not adhere to the latest targeted date of implementation, the new codes will eventually be put in place. There is no time to lose with regard to preparation.
Turning Lemons into Lemonade: Use the Delay
Everyone, even those that feel totally up-to-date in terms of preparation for ICD-10, can profit from this continuing delay. Many smaller hospitals and medical practices have complained that the change was too big to accomplish in such a short time. Now that is no longer an issue, everyone has more time to adapt.
The time remaining between now and October 1st, 2015 can be used productively by everyone. Hospitals and practices which have not prepared themselves adequately now have more time to make the transition. Perhaps the best way to use the time is in training. They would be well advised to gather representatives of every segment of their workforce to practice using the codes at every level. It is not just the medical coder who needs to understand the developments that have taken place. Everyone who is involved with documenting patient care should have a good understanding of the structure, format and content of this new coding system.
In addition to assuring proper training of physicians, nurses and other healthcare staff, this is a good time to assure that all the appropriate business associates are fully prepared, including the EHR software vendors, electronic clearing house functionaries, and all other healthcare IT service providers.
ICD-10 is the next step in preparing for an ever-changing future in healthcare. More people should be relieved about the updates and changes that are being put in place. These adjustments will keep the new system for codes useful once it is actually ready to be implemented. Take the time and opportunity to perform end-to-end testing on a selected number of the new ICD-10 codes.
Finally, begin to set aside some financial resources to cover for the revenue losses that may occur during the transition and begin scheduling vacations early in the year in 2015 so that there will not be a reduced staffing issue during the transition time.
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