ICD-10 “Training?” Think Again.

ImageThere has been much talk about providing ICD-10 “training” to your practices and teams.  What does that actually mean, though?  What do they really need to know to move to this “10” coding structure?  What about the practice managers; what do they need to know and do?  And when?

Having designed several healthcare IT training programs, I would argue that the transition to ICD-10 isn’t really a traditional “training” initiative.  Your teams aren’t new to coding; they already know how to do their jobs.  The transition to ICD-10 is about the “delta” – tell me what’s changed and what I need to do now!

So, I’m not recommending endless hours of classroom training or watching canned videos on the history of coding.  What am I recommending is a simple path with key components to transition your teams to ICD-10:

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  • Awareness:   There continues to be much confusion around ICD-10.  Start by addressing some common questions and misconceptions:  What does it mean for me?  Will the October 1 deadline really hold?  What are the top five things that we, as a practice, can start now?  What do we do after October 1?  What are our key milestones?  What’s next?  Then take some “baby steps” to start your transition: Convert your top twenty codes, meet with your payors and vendors; begin to plan your ICD-10 transition project; budget (time, money, and resources) accordingly through January 31, 2015.
  • Role-Specific Education:  Now that we are all aware of what this ICD-10 transition really looks like, it’s time to take a deeper dive by role:  Providers, practice / project managers, billing, coding, and claims professionals.  Start your providers off by performing chart reviews and converting their most commonly used codes.  Practice managers and ICD-10 project managers should be knee-deep in project planning, including budgeting, timelines, vendor management, and testing.  Billing and coding folks should begin a review of the new features with ICD-10, guideline comparisons, and the major differences between ICD-9 and 10.
  • Tools:  You’ve made your teams aware of the ICD-10 transition and clarified any misconceptions.  Oh, and you’ve reminded them that the October 1, 2014, date is set in solid cement.  You’ve told them what they have to do to prepare (e.g., planning, converting codes, etc.).  But, how?  Using what?  Providing the right, trusted tools – such as ICD-10-specific project planning software for your practice and project managers; robust code translators for your providers, etc. – is the “rubber- meeting-the-road” piece of the successful equation.  Overlooking this is equivalent to having blue prints to build a new home, without any of the tools to do so.  And don’t take the easy way out; there are no simple, free, direct, and thorough code translators.  But there are robust tools that can help.
  • EHR Training:  Finally!  Training!  After your electronic health record (EHR) has gone through testing and, most likely, an upgrade – and tested again – it’s time to provide some level of “delta” training:  What’s changed as a result of the upgrade / transition to ICD-10?  Have my workflows changed as well?  Are there new, changed reports?  I doubt this EHR training would be a significant initiative and most likely can be achieved through interactive eLearning – as long as the eLearning modules match your specific build and workflows.
  • Where do I go for help?!  This is the most important piece of the equation.  After the awareness, education, and training are done and we’re live in October 2014, now what?  What if I’ve forgotten or get stuck?  Have a cost-effective, user-driven, easily updatable resource (no, not calling the help desk) to answer the multitude of questions that will come up and to address changes.   See where you can repackage your education and training tools into bite-sized snippets for topic-specific help.  Don’t recreate; reuse and repackage for just-in-time performance support.

Written by Tony F. Onorad

Mr. Onorad is CEO of OnoradSolutions and has been in the healthcare IT industry for over a decade.  His background includes designing knowledge improvement strategies for a diverse variety of organizations.

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5 Phases for a Successful ICD-10 Transition

22013 ICD-10 Small Coach Final LogoICD-10 is the LAW, and it’s not going away.  In August 2012, HHS announced a final rule moving the ICD-10 compliance date to October 1, 2014. This means that health plans, health care providers, and health care clearinghouses that transact standard health care transactions must use ICD- 10-CM diagnosis codes for services occurring on or after October 1, 2014.

The suggested timeline for a successful ICD-10 transition from start to finish is 18 months, meaning the time to begin preparing is NOW.  What’s required is a sane, measured, and phased approach involving the following five phases: education & awareness, impact assessment, transition plan development, plan implementation, and implementation review.

Phase 1: Engaging and educating Physicians and Staff

Education begins with informing the physicians and staff of the regulatory requirements and deadlines for ICD-10, including the differences between ICD-9 & ICD-10.  Physicians and staff should know how to use the GEMS mapping system, and what documentation changes need to occur to comply with increased code specificity.  Additionally, the benefits and opportunities of ICD-10 CM should be understood.

Phase 2: Assessing Current Readiness and Impact

ICD-10 will touch all aspects of a practice, so understanding current readiness is paramount to a successful implementation.  Health care providers should begin to ask themselves how this new coding system will affect documentation and reporting, as well as the influence it will have on office processes. Physician practices will need to examine the significance of this transition on referrals, payers, and business partners. Budget and productivity will be affected, but to what degree? A detailed impact analysis assessment will determine how claims and electronic transactions will be affected by ICD-10 as well as the impact it will have on PM and EMR software.

Phase 3: Creating a Timeline and Transition Plan

The creation of a timeline and transition plan will support in guiding a practice through the various moving parts of a successful ICD-10 implementation. Create an ICD-10 transition project team with role specific tasks, deadlines, and accountability. Determine area-specific resource needs (human, technological and monetary), including a proposed budget.

Phase 4: Implementing your Transition Plan

Project Managers should plan for productivity loss before, during and after training. Learning and implementing new processes takes time and resources away from day to day duties.  Set a date to begin the transition plan urgently. Coding professionals recommend beginning training on the actual codes 6 – 12 months prior to Oct. 1, 2014. Remember Phase 1-3 need to be accomplished prior to this phase so the time to begin is NOW.

Phase 5: Post Transition Analysis and Reporting

At this point, one can only speculate the requirements of the post transition phase, but monitoring key metrics will be invaluable in determining the results versus desired outcomes of the transition plan. Key metrics include revenue by payer, claims denials, and provider productivity. Monitoring and reporting key metrics will determine if course correction is needed.

With October 1, 2014 rapidly approaching, it is important that every physician practice and healthcare provider in America begin to take urgent action in completing the 5 phases for a successful ICD-10 transition.

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ICD-10 Coach provides education, training, and software to hospital systems, physician practices, and health care providers. ICD-10 Coach is strategically partnered with over fifteen state and national medical associations and societies, and its software developer is an AdminiServe partner with MGMA-ACMPE. For more information on ICD-10 Coach, please call (650) 242-5442 or visit www.icd10coach.com.