Top Considerations for Transitioning to ICD-10 – Guest Post

Posted on August 30, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Chuck Podesta is Fletcher Allen Health Care’s chief information officer.

ICD-10 would not be so daunting if the deadline was not occurring during the rush to get EHRs for meaningful use. Add in value-based purchasing, bundled payments and transitioning to ACOs, and you can see why many CIOs are retiring early or migrating to the vendor or consulting world. We are just over two years away from the October 2013 deadline, and there is much work to be done. ICD-10 contains 68,000 codes, as opposed to the 13,000 currently used in the ICD-9 world. There is a code for every condition that exists on the planet.

The revenue cycle system, which includes registration, HIM and billing/AR, will be the lynch pin to ICD-10 readiness. Having a solid vendor partner and a strong product is key to a successful transition. Many solution providers – like GE Healthcare, who recently launched the 5.0 version of their Centricity Business product – are updating their systems to better comply with ICD-10. GE Healthcare also allows existing Centricity Business customers to retrofit the new ICD-10 functions to the 4.6 version of the product. Strong vendor partners take the burden off you by being ahead of the game and delivering the appropriate technology in time so you are not racing to the finish line.

By now, you should have at least a steering committee in place. Your IT shop should have completed an inventory of all applications that are impacted by ICD-10, including reporting systems. You will be surprised by the number of applications, even if you have taken the one-vendor approach for most of your IT needs. You will need to contact all affected application vendors to see what the plans are for ICD-10 compliance. Most likely, upgrades will be required that will need to be scheduled.

Training of coders will be critical, along with implementing clinical documentation improvement programs. Documentation improvement programs are difficult to implement and will be viewed by providers as more work on top of an already busy schedule. New technologies such as computer-assisted coding will definitely help, but success will be a combination of process improvements and technology.

Lastly, remember that the deadline is for Medicare and Medicaid patients only. Unless the rest of the payer industry follows the same deadline (highly unlikely), you will need to run both ICD-9 and ICD-10 systems.