Three Ways To Protect Your Practice from ICD-10 Issues
It’s not all doom and gloom, if you have been preparing sufficiently for the transition. If you have, then you know that whereas there are some big changes to the coding structure and number of codes, all these can be termed as incremental changes rather than a completely new way of doing things.
So why the big fuss from doctors and hospitals across the country? Because they are scared. Scared that they will not be able to meet the deadline. Scared that their payers will not be ready. Scared that even though they do their best, they still won’t report successfully and this will impact their earnings negatively. Scared that in addition to cash flow disruptions they will also need to foot the bills associated with all the changes in software and staff capacity building. And all these fears are legitimate, mind you, but can be conquered.
1 Make Sure your EHR is ready for ICD-10
Technology is a tremendous enabler and the smart medical entities have discovered that if they have all their software ready, the challenge of switching to ICD-10 is effectively halved. So how do you make sure your software is ready? First, write down a list of ways you think software can help you with the transition. This could be having the specific codes for your specialty already preloaded, templates and charts in place, etc.
Then compare this to your current EHR software. If these changes are not in place, ring up your provider and ask them what plans they have for this. Of course they may just give you a cock and bull story but hear them out. If you are not convinced, shop around for EHR software that meets the needs you’ve outlined. If you find a good package, have them run for you a demo. Then call back your software vendor and let them know you’ve found an option. If they offer you concrete steps to meet your needs, well and good, if not, it may be a good time to jump ship.
2 Financial Obligations
October through to the end of the year will not be a good time to operate on a shoestring budget. Because it’s anticipated that there may be cash-flow disruptions when ICD-10 comes into force, you will need to shore up your savings and your practice’s emergency funds. This could mean organizing for a line of credit with your bank or arranging some other form of financing to plug in whatever deficit shows up during this transitory period. It’s said to be forewarned is to be forearmed so do the necessary and be prepared for whatever comes.
3 Staff Capacity Building
Your staff will play a huge role in whether you are able to transition well or poorly. If this is the case, then you need to be investing heavily in their capacity building. Train them rigorously and get them up to speed on all matters ICD-10. They will be the driving force so they will need to know what needs to be done at every moment without having to be reminded. Once you train them, you may also want to prepare for them a summarized handbook on ICD-10 that they can peruse to jog their memories from when the new coding standard comes into play. Your EHR vendor should be able to help you with ICD-10 specific staff training.
These are perhaps the three most important ways you can prepare for ICD-10 and implementing these steps successfully could mean the difference between a painful transition and a painless one.