TAMPA, FL, December 07, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- There are roughly three hundred days left before the transition over to the ICD-10 coding system. This transition will rock the healthcare industry and you had better make sure your practice is prepared. Not being prepared does not just mean a dip in payments, it means a stop in payments. Luckily there is still time to prepare, but it does have to become a priority for you. To help, here are ten steps you can start doing to prepare: ---
1. Scope of ICD-10
The ICD-10 transition is massive. By the numbers, its a change from 14,000 diagnosis codes and 4,000 procedure codes, to 68,000 diagnosis codes and 87,000 procedure codes under ICD-10. That is a massive increase in the amount of medical coding knowledge necessary to bill and code after the transition. This means your coders have to be prepared, your billing team has to be ready, your EHR system must be sufficient to meet the demand, and your payers must be contacted to ensure the same reimbursement schedules.
2. Embrace the Challenge
This process is going to be tedious and frustrating at times, but it is going to be that way for everyone. Do whatever you can to turn the pain of the transition into a relatively enjoyable experience. Always consider the positives as well, such as an overall increase in the quality of care you will be able to deliver to your patients and the always enticing possibility of increased reimbursements under ICD-10 if your practice truly does code correctly. Whatever it takes for you and your medical practice to embrace the ICD-10 challenge.
You will need to create a checklist for your practice detailing all of the areas where ICD-10 will affect your business. Once you know the areas where your medical practice is at risk, find out what the solution is to these problem areas. There isn't going to be a blanket solution for all medical providers so its something that you will have to do the legwork on to find out where your areas of concern lie. Once you know these areas, create timelines for each area to become prepared for the transition and treat these deadlines as milestones.
4. Assess Your Situation
After reviewing your ICD-10 checklist, determine if this is a project your office can handle on its own. It may make more sense to seek help from a practice management company who can handle the steps for your medical practice. More often than not these companies will have strategies at their disposal for a simpler and more effective ICD-10 transition process than the one your practice is considering. Most providers are already completely booked with their patient load and simply do not have the time left in their busy days to take on a task of this scale. It may make sense to spend the money on outside help now in order to save on that money, time, and stress in the future.
5. Follow the Leader
You need to develop an ICD-10 project manager, someone who knows how to keep everyone in place and more importantly, keep the ball rolling on your progress. This person much be completely knowledgeable not only on the entirety of your business practices, but how these business practices will be affected by the ICD-10 transition. They must also be dedicated enough not to lose sight of important deadlines in the preparation process. Again, this is where practice management companies play a major role and are an extremely effective resource.
6. Buy an ICD-10 Book
Go out and purchase an ICD-10 coding book today and start looking up how the codes you input using the old format will change under the transition. Start developing that muscle memory with your coding process. The important part to remember is that you will not need to memorize all of the ICD-10 codes, just the ones you use the most. Outliers you can lookup when necessary and in time, even those will become second nature to you. The earlier you start this process, the easier this process will become.
7. IT as an Investment
Technology assets are only going to become more vital to the healthcare industry as time goes on, and they will have a major role to play under the ICD-10 transition. You do not want to forego future profits for short-term efficiency by treating IT simply as a business expense. The returns you see from proper IT assets will be critical at the time of transition. Bear in mind that there will be a delay in payments when the transition occurs. You want as much operational strength as possible to make sure that these delays do not last any longer than absolutely necessary.
8. Meaningful Use
Aside from the incentives that go along with meeting meaningful use, the operational efficiency that they will afford your medical practice will make the transition period that much simpler. Despite many medical providers being turned off by the added workload that meaningful use brings on at first, physicians who are meeting all of the requirements are seeing increases in operational efficiency, the level of patient care they are giving, and their overall revenues as a medical practice. These three factors will be extremely helpful upon transition time and you will be more than happy that you met the meaningful use requirements ahead of time to help prepare for it.
9. Vendor Contact
A critical process in preparing your medical practice will be contacting your various vendors to make sure your relationship with them will not change under the ICD-10 transition. Start a dialogue to make sure that your lag in reimbursement times will not be worse after October 1st. Knowledge will be power under the ICD-10 transition and you want to know where your vendors stand in terms of readiness for ICD-10 in order to better know where your medical practice stands in terms of readiness.
10. Ignorance is Not an Excuse
The ICD-10 transition is coming in October. It is not getting pushed back again. Keeping yourself in the dark and hoping that your medical practice will survive by operational ignorance is foolish. Your revenue will come to a screeching halt. The longer you procrastinate, the harder the transition process will become. The correct time to start preparing was yesterday. Your next best option is today. The worst day to start is tomorrow. No one wants to be that one doctor who did not take the ICD-10 transition seriously and suffered the consequences because of it.
If you decide that you would prefer the assistance of a dedicated and knowledgeable medical practice management company, Consolidated MD is here to offer you just that. Their consultants can train your staff and offer implementation strategies that will get you prepared for the upcoming ICD-10 transition. Consolidated MD is here to make sure that your practice is ahead of the ICD-10 curve. Visit their website, http://www.consolidatedmd.com, or give them a call at (800) 933 - 5190 today to schedule an initial consultation and start the process of creating a solution for the ICD-10 transition.
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