Healthcare News & Insights

Use ICD-10 delay to get up to speed

You’ve likely heard the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has agreed to delay the October 2013 ICD-10 implementation date.

But delay doesn’t mean abandon, and industry experts are urging facilities to continue preparations for switching to the new code set.

So make the most of the reprieve.

To put things in perspective, it took attendees at a recent coding boot camp four hours to code 20 cases in ICD-10 – and that was with the help of the instructor.

It’s estimated that coding will take twice as long under ICD-10 – at least initially – resulting in a 10% to 25% loss in coding productivity.

An update on ICD-10 is expected from HHS soon. Until then, this four-step plan can help you make the most of the extended prep time:

  1. Plan a strategy. Create a plan for dealing with reduced coding productivity. Consider how you’ll tweak the workload to offset the loss (offer overtime pay, hire more coders, outsource some of the work, etc) and how that will affect your practice financially.
  2. Review all written procedures and policies concerning coding. Look for any documents that will need to be updated to reflect ICD-10 changes. Note: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has some helpful resources at
  3. Review payor contracts. Since contracts are based on the current ICD-9 codes, your practice will need to work with carriers to update them for ICD-10. Don’t assume they’ll do it for you.
  4. Establish a line of credit. The switch to ICD-10 will certainly affect cash flow, and most lines of credit need to be in place for six months to a full year before funds become available.

Think of it this way: If you use this time now to get up to speed on ICD-10, the switch to ICD-11, which is coming in 2015, won’t seem so bad.

Is your facility ready for ICD-10? Share your preparation plans for the future in the comments area below.

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