Preparing for the ICD-10 implementation isn’t something that can be done at the last minute. Making the change to ICD-10 involves all aspects of the practice, from doctors and staff, to vendors and partners. Private practices need to evaluate their current readiness for ICD-10, and identify deficient areas that require attention. Conducting these evaluations, and addressing deficiencies, will take time and effort on the part of all members of the private practice. Common ICD-9 podiatry billing codes must be identified and compared to the more-specific, and numerous, ICD-10 codes that will replace them. Staff must be trained and tested on the new codes to ensure minimal problems when submitting claims. Treatment and billing software will need to be updated to the new standard, requiring the staff to re-learn the existing software or start over with new programs. Either way, this will require even more time and effort from the members of the practice.
As the practice moves toward implementation, it’s important to collaborate with vendors, colleagues, and billing and management agencies. All of the parties that the private practice routinely works with should be moving toward full-compliance on or about the same date. Once a practice, agency, or vendor makes the switch, they will no longer be compatible with the ICD-9 system. If the private practice is too early or too late in implementation, it will create an extended period of incompatibility. This can lead to numerous billing and supply errors that could result in lost payments. To make sure everyone is on the same page, it’s necessary to evaluate the progress of all related parties, and compare that progress to that of the private practice. Since a private practice will have little influence over the implementation timelines of major vendors and insurers, any discrepancies will have to be solved by adjusting the timeline of the practice.
Given the complexity of the ICD-10 implementation, and the penalties for failing to make the switch on time, 13 months is not a lot of time. Waiting any longer could leave the practice scrambling to catch up at the last minute. This could lead to over-stressed, under-trained staff trying to learn a new system on the fly. Or, worse yet, it could lead to late deployment, creating havoc with vendors, partners, and insurers. Preparing for the implementation now gives private practices enough time to calmly deploy the new standard, test their staff thoroughly, and address any deficiencies prior to full deployment. The goal is to have a seamless, low-stress implementation ready for the October 1st deadline.
To help achieve that goal, Hippocratic Solutions offers ICD-10 consulting services for private practices.