With the many challenges currently facing physicians, such as Meaningful Use Stage 2 and the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), many of them aren’t taking the time to receive the necessary training for proper ICD-10 coding.

Because the deadline has already been postponed, many doctors are worried it’ll be delayed again. However, the deadline is set for October 1, and that isn’t likely to change. Physicians need to be prepared.

Rather than waiting until the last minute, doctors can immediately benefit from learning how to document for ICD-10 now. The improved documentation can benefit physicians even in the ICD-9 environment, improving their quality and outcome metrics and increasing reimbursement.

Physician-specific training can be either peer-to-peer or conducted by clinicians. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and some consulting firms are offering training sessions to physicians. For smaller practices that want to keep the cost down, the CMS “Road to 10” website provides peer-to-peer videos. Some third party vendors will also offer training modules and simulators at an affordable price.

To get practical experience in documentation before the implementation deadline, AHIMA recommends that providers start taking advantage of the dual coding available in ICD-10-ready EHRs. By coding visits in both ICD-9 and ICD-10, physicians can figure out what’s missing in their documentation.

AHIMA also advises that practices perform a “document assessment” to determine how their current documentation will support ICD-10 coding. This assessment requires coding a current chart in ICD-10, and determining whether or not there’s enough information.

Medical Economics has provided a list of tips for the transition to ICD-10.

  • Analyze the financial health of the practice by evaluating payer mix, determining typical accounts receivable cycle and examining denied claims, both for coding and documentation reasons.
  • Analyze coding patterns to determine which codes the practice uses most frequently, which ones make up the largest portion of revenue, and which ones are denied most often.
  • Ask payers, electronic health record vendors, and medical billing services about ICD-10 readiness and monitor their preparedness.
  • Begin documenting patient encounters as if ICD-10 is already in place in order to be prepared for the implementation of ICD-10.
  • Test ICD-10 claims to ensure that coding and documentation are working properly, making sure to test using records that reflect the patient encounters most commonly dealt with in the practice.

By following these guidelines, doctors can feel more at ease and be better prepared for a smooth transition to ICD-10.

Author: Lauren Daniels

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