deadlineICD-10 compliance for all HIPAA-covered entities is scheduled for implementation on October 1 of this year. No judgements from me if you’re a little leery of that date. We’ve had more than our fair share of delays. This time, though, it’s for real. ICD-10 implementation is going to happen in 5 months. Let that sink in. Five. Months.

Why is ICD-10 so essential now?

With the multitude of ICD-10 requirements it’s easy to forget that CMS isn’t trying to punish medical practices. The objective is to improve the practice of medicine through better information, enhanced patient datasets and automated claim reporting. The US is the last industrialized nation not using the greater functionality of the ICD-10-CM. Having healthcare records that are reliable and accessible to all providers has long been a challenge in the US. The New York Times notes that over 100,000 patient deaths a year are attributable to inaccurate medical records.

The vital need to ensure accurate medical records has been made even more imperative by the ongoing consolidation of health practices nationwide and clinical staffing shortages. With so many medical practices in flux, the potential for misplaced or inaccurate patient records increases, and with it the risk of misdiagnosis. The use of sophisticated ICD-10 diagnostic codes for patient records, maintained and shared via modern EHR systems, helps ensure continuity of proper patient care and safety in a period of change.

Where are you in the ICD-10 transition path?

As of October 1, claims for services on or after that date must use ICD-10 codes for diagnosis. No further grace periods or extensions will be given. Non-complaint claims will be rejected and require resubmission.

Although there are many guides to ICD-10 implementation, AHIMA (one of our HealthcareSource eLearning Library partners) offers an especially comprehensive one, dividing ICD-10 implementation into four main phases. Ideally, you should now be in Phase 3, the “Go Live Preparation” phase, which would run from 1/15 to 10/1/15 as a period of intensive training and system testing. It’s a time to strengthen your clinical documentation, coordinate on transition readiness with vendors and stakeholders, begin dual coding, and end test your claims submissions’ procedures and systems.

Who should be on your ICD-10 Implementation Team?

In any organization, no matter how sophisticated its automated support, without the right person in the right job at the right time, any endeavor can fail. Nowhere is this clearer than in the “Go Live” phase of the ICD-10 implementation. To ensure that your staff is ready we recommend augmenting where necessary.

For a successful, high acceptance rate following ICD-10 transition, AHIMA recommends involvement of key personnel to oversee Phase 3: a practice’s health information professionals, financial managers, clinical documentation specialists, and most especially, its coding staff. For smaller practices where one person wears many hats, they offer a role-based model that suggests the best way to utilize personnel throughout the entire ICD-10 transition.

Whatever the size of a practice, the focus in the last nine months should be on:

  • Staff and vendor training
  • Quality of medical record documentation (information reported must support detailed structure of ICD-10)
  • Improving implementation strategies as needed
  • System testing

So, what phase of the ICD-10 preparation are you in? How ready is your organization? How confident are you that you won’t be receiving panicked phone calls and emails from executives, managers, and clinicians once the deadline is here? Tell us! Take a minute to answer our 5-question survey about your organization’s readiness for ICD-10. If you complete the survey by noon on April 29, you’ll be entered to win an Apple iPad.

Want help or reassurance that you’re doing all of the right things to prepare for ICD-10? Join us on Thursday, April 30 for our webinar: 

The State of ICD-10 (And Why You’re Not as Ready as You Think)

In this webinar, industry expert Cheryl Ericson will guide you through the steps to achieve ICD-10 readiness, offer insights into the most overlooked training areas, and share tips for creating the most efficient organization’s education program for your healthcare organization.


Valerie Keays

About Valerie Keays

Valerie Keays is the Marketing Programs Manager at HealthcareSource. Valerie is responsible for the development of our educational webinars and marketing programs pertaining to our L&D solutions.