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How You Can Prepare for the Big ICD-10 Changeover

by Allison Shirrell, Content and Communications

The upcoming ICD-10 code set for reporting diagnoses and procedures is, simply put, massive. Scheduled for a currently proposed deadline of October 2014, the new code set increases the number of reporting codes five-fold, from about 13,600 codes to about 69,000, representing a dramatic increase in the level of reporting detail and granularity.

The ICD-10 transition can require a wide variety of adaptations by health care providers, including:
• Staff education and training
• Business process analysis of health plan contracts
• Coverage determination and documentation
• Changes to superbills
• IT system changes, increased documentation costs and cash flow disruption

Considering the transition will require substantial preparation -- and potentially hefty expenses -- what's the best way to start thinking about ICD-10 now? John Dingle, senior health systems engineering analyst at the Mayo Clinic, provides the following tips to prepare for ICD-10:

• Identify a project sponsor who will champion the entire project and enterprises within your organization to brainstorm next steps
• Develop a high-level timeline that starts at the deadline and work backwards to the present
• Create a sense of urgency

The government's goal with ICD-10 is to improve clinical insights and care coordination through this greater level of coding detail. athenahealth's goal is to get all our providers through the change as seamlessly as possible.

We have created a list of detailed ways to prepare for ICD-10 that assigns responsibilities to both us and our clients. For instance, while we expect each client practice to identify an ICD-10 team and develop a plan to train staff, we work directly with payers and clearinghouses to define and execute a comprehensive testing schedule, and refine and test workflows without disruption to current work. In our estimation, regardless of your medical billing and EHR vendor, it’s important for practices and health groups not to go it alone in transitioning to ICD-10. And vendors should be working hard right now to adapt systems for this changeover.

We want the ICD-10 transition to be as painless and as inexpensive as possible for practices, so you can focus on educating and training staff. To learn more about the athenahealth approach to ICD-10, we invite you to explore our whitepaper, ICD-10: Preparing Your Practice for the Big Changover. And, as always, we welcome your comments and questions.

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