There’s a lot riding on the ICD-10 transition, including your 2014 financial picture and potential staff upheaval. The bottom line is this: the better prepared you are, the less likely you’ll see a revenue dip from the changeover.
That preparation starts with making sure everyone in your office understands the import of the new codes and your plans for a smooth transition.
If you haven’t already done so, hold a practice-wide meeting to explain:
- The benefits of ICD-10 over ICD-9 (specificity improves coding accuracy, supplies rich data for better analysis and reduces the need for supporting documentation)
- What the changeover will mean to your practice (adjustments to front-office procedures, encounter documentation, and billing)
- How careful planning, training and support will ease the transition
Next, meet with each department to create a training plan that makes sense for the group. For example, front-office staff should need only a few hours to understand how they’ll be affected, which forms will change, and where they can turn for questions during the first couple weeks of October 2014. Clinicians will need more extensive training (a few may need to brush up on medical terminology and/or anatomy), physicians will need in-depth training on documentation and billers will need a full course on the new coding system.
Be sure to consider what training format makes sense for each group. For those most affected, an off-site, intensive course may make the most sense. For busy physicians, short weekly bursts are the way to go. Individualize physician training as much as possible, focusing on their most frequent diagnoses. And remember that online training may be the best choice for some individuals.
After the initial training, follow up with each staff member to determine their status—was the training on point and useful, do they feel it was sufficient, and so on. Allow department leaders to evaluate the readiness of each person in their group and decide who needs additional training.
Finally, send out regular updates (at least once a month) on the progress being made. Let everyone know who has attended training, what they thought of it, and what’s planned next. During the final months leading up to the changeover, you may want to increase communication frequency, allaying fears and building support by demonstrating that your preparations are on target and on schedule.