ICD-10: Getting Ready When You'd Rather Ignore It

Betsy Nicoletti, MS


January 08, 2014

In This Article

Important Steps to Make the Transition More Painless

Get a Commitment From Your Vendor About Updating

Both your practice management and EHR systems will need to be updated to the latest version. When will your vendor do that? (Let's hope it isn't the last week in September.) If you are not on the most up-to-date version of your software, update now. It is sometimes more difficult to leapfrog software versions.

Buy an ICD-10 Book

It's true: The ICD-10 book states that it is a "draft version." But the World Health Organization has frozen both the ICD-9 and ICD-10 code sets, except for urgent additions. The best way to start preparing is to buy the book.

Who should pay attention to the book? Let's start with the coding and billing staff. Coders should review the general guidelines at the start of the book. As in ICD-9, there is a set of principles that coders will follow in selecting codes. The first pages describe conventions and punctuation and explain the symbols used in the book. Next, the coder should read the notes at the start of each chapter. These notes are important for selecting and sequencing.

Train Your Coding and Billing Staff

For a single-specialty practice, select specialty-specific training. For multispecialty practices, select a more comprehensive ICD-10 training program that covers general principles and all chapters in the ICD-10 book. There are 2- to 5-day courses available.

The time is past for "Why We Are Converting to ICD-10" courses and "Introduction to ICD-10." Coders should attend a course at which either a book or access to an electronic version of ICD-10 is available. The agenda must include coding sample cases. When looking for a course, remember that physician practices do not need to learn procedural coding, or ICD-10-PCS. That is for facility reporting of inpatient procedures only.

Decide How and When to Educate Physicians

Most physicians won't want ICD-10 training in early 2014. They may not want it in the summer of 2014, but they will certainly need it then! Keep vacation schedules in mind and consider if spring training (no, not traveling to see your favorite team) will be more effective with review in late summer and September. Physicians won't want to learn about ICD-10 coding for diseases and systems that they don't treat. Specialty-specific training makes the most sense for physicians and will keep them engaged.

Purchasing on-line access allows clinical staff to complete this training at their convenience. The training times vary according to the physician specialty. There are several hours to 8-hour specialty courses. A single system, such as the respiratory system, may be covered in a 2-hour program, while courses aimed at specific specialties that treat a wider variety of conditions will be longer.

Primary care, general surgery, orthopedics, and the emergency department are examples of specialties that will require more extensive and longer training. Identify the online resource, set an expectation about when each clinician will complete the course, and then schedule a group meeting to review the information and answer questions.

There are advantages to face-to-face group training in place of online learning. Although it is more difficult to schedule, the clinicians will benefit by hearing one another's questions, being able to practice coding common codes, and solving problems as they occur.

No more delays. Medical practices need to budget and plan training for ICD-10 for staff and clinicians. Practices need to update their software and get a commitment from their vendors about future updates required for ICD-10. Take a test drive around mapping and translation programs. And buy an ICD-10 book today!


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