The clock may be ticking on meeting the deadline for implementing ICD-10 but you can still prepare in the time left if you focus your efforts properly.
Devote a project manager to nothing but transitioning your organization to the new coding system and focus their efforts on the follow preparations. Ensure that they have support from the highest levels of leadership along the way as well, so that they can get help in removing internal or external roadblocks, like hesitant clinicians or unresponsive vendors, if needed.
1. Assess your systems
Check whether your information technology systems are ICD-10 compliant. If they are not, contact your vendors immediately to remediate your systems before April 1. Some vendors updated their systems to comply with meaningful use requirements as well as ICD-10 when the deadline for ICD-10 was pushed to Oct. 1, 2015. Better systems with more functionality can improve patient care and provider productivity.
2. Test your updated systems
Confirm that remediated, ICD-10 compliant applications properly integrate with your internal systems. Check unit by unit. Test integration with your payers' systems as well. End-to-end testing is vital in the time remaining, even for those healthcare systems that have been preparing for the ICD-10 transition for years, irrespective of deadline delays.
3. Analyze root causes for denials
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that claim denials will increase by 100 percent to 200 percent after ICD-10 is implemented. Determine the most common reasons that your claims are denied, rejected or delayed. Addressing avoidable denials now will prevent unnecessary reimbursement delays after the transition.
4.Train your staff
Educate coders and non-coders on how to use the more than 150,000 codes provided in ICD-10. Then teach them some more because the better trained they are the more likely you are to harness the dual benefits of improving patient care and preserving revenue integrity that ICD-10 offers. Even if the ICD-10 deadline were to be delayed again, if your clinicians are trained in documentation excellence then you will still have better coded, more accurate claims that are more likely to be paid without delay.
5. Increase cash on hand
CMS has recommended that providers have 90 to 100 days of cash on hand when transitioning to ICD-10, given that accounts receivable could increase by 20 to 40 days. Consider opening or increasing a line of credit before you transition so that you can continue to operate if payments are delayed.
As the implementation deadline nears, you can take advantage of free resources, like monthly CMS webinars and educational information available through the World Health Organization's (WHO) website. Some states, like Idaho, also have collaboratives in which providers share their progress and lessons learned. These can be particularly useful in learning from the end-to-end testing that CMS is doing intermittently this year, given that participation in the testing sessions is limited. Collaboratives allow providers that do not participate in the CMS testing to learn from those that do.
Even if you have done little preparation for meeting the ICD-10 deadline to date, you can still meet it in the time left by focusing your energies on the transition.