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Technical Doctor's insights and information collated from various sources on EHR selection, EHR implementation, EMR relevance for providers and decision makers
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Seven ICD-10 Transition Steps Medical Coders Should Follow

Seven ICD-10 Transition Steps Medical Coders Should Follow | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

With only four months to go until October 1, healthcare providers who are behind in their implementation of the new diagnostic coding set need to follow specific ICD-10 transition steps to ensure success by the compliance deadline. From integrating new systems and upgrading technological processes to training staff on the new codes and testing the systems, providers will need to be ready by October 1 to ensure their healthcare reimbursement and revenue remains stable.


According to the Journal of AHIMA, coders especially have had difficulty moving toward the new ICD-10 codes, as the amount of responsibilities on their shoulders has risen drastically. When it comes to training and learning about the necessary ICD-10 transition steps, the funding for such activities is low and few resources are being put toward it within the healthcare industry at large, the Journal ofAHIMA reports.


“The budget is the paramount issue,” Anita C. Archer, CPC, Director of Regulatory and Compliance at Hayes Management Consulting, told the news source. “Providing funding for [physician practice] coders to attend training is a problem. There is a much better infrastructure on the HIM side.”


MeShawn Foster, another consultant on ICD-10 implementation, stated, “Based on what I’ve heard, some coders have had to use their own money for training and even their own paid time off to attend the training. With hospital coders, the training is available, and they don’t need to pay out of pocket. Justifying the cost of some of these conferences is hard for the physician coder.”


As the ICD-10 transition deadline comes near and providers only have four months to finish their preparation, physician practice coders are experiencing significant challenges in ensuring they can properly utilize ICD-10 codes in time, especially when it comes to their training.

Another complex challenge that physician practice coders will need to overcome is the management of the practice’s superbill, which requires patient demographics to be evaluated. Additionally, EHR templates will need to be updated as part of the key ICD-10 transition steps.


The Journal of AHIMA offered seven practical tips for providers to follow as they adhere to some common ICD-10 transition steps on their path toward the October 1 deadline. These tips are:


1) Become an expert on using the ICD-10 diagnostic codes.


2) Start at the beginning and convert only the top 20 ICD-9 codes to the new ICD-10 codes. This will prevent coders from becoming overwhelmed.


3) Set aside one to two hours for practicing dual-coding per week.


4) Network with other physician practice coders to reduce the costs of ICD-10 training.


5) Find a physician leader in larger medical practices to advocate for ICD-10 training and preparation on the coders’ behalf.


6) Offer ideas and opinions on template design along with template updating.


7) Schedule weekly meetings in order to discuss any and all ICD-10 implementation issues.


By following the seven tips above, physician practice coders will be on their way toward successfully transitioning toward the ICD-10 code set.

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Why Postponing ICD-10 Compliance Deadline Causes Setback

Why Postponing ICD-10 Compliance Deadline Causes Setback | EHR and Health IT Consulting | Scoop.it

Due to the legislative motions and prior delays to the ICD-10 compliance deadline, there are many healthcare organizations across the country that may not have made as much progress in preparing for the new medical coding set scheduled to begin on October 1, 2015. Even over the last few weeks, Representative Ted Poe (R-TX) introduced a bill into the House that called for putting an end to the ICD-10 transition altogether.


There has been a fair amount of speculation as to the need for the new medical codes throughout the political spectrum and the delays from the last two years have also brought many medical facilities to doubt whether the current ICD-10 compliance deadline will stand still.

The Journal of AHIMA reports that the ICD-10 delays have set back some organizations financially and led them to lose their momentum. Janis Leonard, RHIT, CCS, director of HIM at Albany Medical Center, told the source that any more pushback against the ICD-10 compliance deadline including a postponement would cause severe disruption and a monetary hit due to all of the funds the medical system invested in ICD-10 training among their staff.


Leonard said that if another delay to the ICD-10 compliance deadline were to occur, it “would be tough to re-engage.” The Albany Medical Center is working toward ensuring that ICD-10 conversion on October 1 is a go and that another postponement does not take place.

“Even the director of patient financial services sent a letter to our Congressmen recently again saying ‘do not delay,’ so we have our financial people as well as our coders engaged in that initiative,” Leonard told the news source.


Additionally, physicians at this particular organization have been supporting the transition toward ICD-10 coding from the beginning and are conducting ongoing documentation improvement initiatives.

Online modules are also being used to offer more training opportunities for medical coders to ensure they are prepared for the ICD-10 transition. In particular, more training information on medical terminology, pharmacology, anatomy, and physiology is being offered at Albany Medical Center to ensure coders will be able to handle the increased specificity of the ICD-10 diagnostic codes.


For more than a year, Leonard and her team focused on dual coding throughout the organization requiring coders to use both ICD-9 and ICD-10 for coding 10 percent of a workday’s cases. Additionally, weekly training sessions are offered where coders can use ICD-10 to code scenarios and review their work with an instructor.


When it comes to retaining a strong workforce of medical coders within a healthcare facility, Albany Medical Center focused on restructuring the career ladder and offering more incentives.


“When we did this, we based [the job positions] on new qualifications, credentials and experience, and we swaddled people into their new roles,” stated Leonard. “And more than half of coders received an increase in pay. We also provided a recruitment and a retention bonus that was paid out over two years with a work commitment of two years to incentivize our coders to stick around after ICD-10 [transition].”

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