If you have not yet prepared for the October 1, 2015, transition from ICD-9 billing codes to ICD-10 codes, you are not alone. According to an ICD-10 trainer approved by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), as of May 1, 2015, more than 30% of physicians had not even begun their preparation. They either are hoping for another postponement of the implementation date or have vastly underestimated the time and costs of ICD-10 readiness.
Whatever your reason for not yet having prepared, there is still time. But, you need to begin as soon as possible. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) states unequivocally that there will be no more postponements and HIPAA covered entities must submit their reimbursement claims beginning October 1, 2015, using ICD-10 codes or the claims will be denied.
Although upgrading software and your electronic health records (EHR) are necessary, implementation affects many areas of your practice. If you establish a budget and a timeline for completing tasks, you may still meet the deadline.
The transition involves planning, budgeting and a monetary investment. In addition to planning for a reduced cash flow as productivity declines during the adjustment period, other key components of a meaningful ICD-10 budget include:
Upgrading your IT system
Contact your EHR vendor to find out what you need to do to be sure your system will allow the staff to use a few key words to easily access the ICD -10 codes. This may mean investing in computer assisted coding (CAC) that will save personnel time and therefore save you money by smoothing the ICD-10 transition.
Identifying documents that need to be replaced
This includes your charge tickets you give to the patient, referral forms and any other documents you use that contain codes. Order the new forms so they will be ready for you and your staff to use beginning October 1, 2015.
Educating and training your staff
This is a major part of the time and costs of ICD-10 implementation. All providers and coders need training on how to use the codes. This includes front office staff that schedule appointments, nurses and back office personnel who have patient contact and all insurance and billing staff. The budget must include the decreased cash flow during the time that staff is being trained which will interfere with your daily revenue production.
You need to have an employee retention plan so that your employees do not leave after you spend money on their training and development. While training may be difficult at first, it will pay off over time for your employees.
Planning for a temporary decrease in cash flow
Physicians expect to experience a 30% dip in revenue for up to nine months after the ICD-10 transition as staff members continue training. Also, the billing process will take more time during transition.
Consider including in your budget the outsourcing of your billing to an experienced and professional billing service like Medical Mastermind. With more than 40 years of service, the company provides EHRs, practice management and billing services to thousands of physicians in all different specialties across the country.
Although the date is getting closer, there is still time to properly budget for the time and costs of ICD-10 implementation so you will be ready on October 1, 2015. Remember that in order to receive compensation for your services, you must submit your compensation claims with the correct new ICD-10 codes.