Although the deadline for ICD-10 has been pushed to 2015, and everyone who was ill-prepared can now take a deep breath, the time to train, test, and monitor the progress of knowledge and coding efficiency is now.
Physician were by far the largest group to report lagging behind in preparedness. Likewise the small samples of dual coding from billing departments revealed similar weaknesses. In a previous post on how other nations fared making the transition, it was shown that it took an average of 18 months for doctors and medical billing staff to reach their previous levels of proficiency.
So, is your practice ready for ICD-10? It’s almost like asking if someone is ready for Christmas. Everyone realizes the big date is approaching, but no one is ever prepared.
Many medical organizations have conflicting concerns about the transition as some health benefit Payers reported they wouldn’t be ready in time. Clinicians especially had questionable confidence that their practice, their EDI providers, and their medical billing software and EHR vendors were thoroughly end-to-end tested as to be fully operational when the time came.
Even if you’re doing everything you can to prepare your staff, take the additional time to verify that your vendors are indeed ready –not just offering promises. There are some essential questions to ask technology providers and some concrete steps you can take to be ready early.
Be Direct and Get to the Point!
First, reach out to your technology providers and ask if they are ready to make the transition. There are some obvious clues that they might be lagging behind. Failing to return your calls or respond to emails and vague answers signal unreadiness.
Try to get a definite date to test your systems or testing alternatives from your vendor representatives. If you can’t get a straight answer, consider contacting other providers to discuss solutions. You can’t afford to wait. Even if they tell you they are ready, you should ask several pointed questions – such as to review their ICD10 preparedness plan – to prevent surprises later.
Confirm System Compatibility
Many doctors have concerns about ICD-10. They’re worried about system compatibility, tech support and financial responsibility. Some practice management vendors are absorbing the costs, but others are not.
Ask if your current hardware will continue to work, how long tech support for your existing system will continue, and who pays for necessary upgrades. It is also important to know if your vendor provides free training and online support for your office personnel.
Here are a few more technology upgrade questions to ask:
- Does your system have a searchable database for both ICD-9 and ICD-10 diagnostic codes?
- Does the new management system support both ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes?
- Do I have to rebuild customization templates or can I use current templates?
- How much is the upgrade going to cost to reach full compliance?
Important Dates to Remember
Ask your practice management providers to schedule a date for you to demo or review the new product in operation. This will give you an opportunity to see how the changes look and operate on your practice solutions.
Ask when your ICD-10-compliant EHR and practice management system be released to you.
Confirm the release date for the ICD-10 practice management and EHR system(s). This is the date you can access the compliant version. Ask for a specific date that the company will help you test the system with payers. It is important to find out if your provider can tell you when the majority of payers will begin accepting ICD-10 codes for pre-authorization.
Prepare for Success
Even though the new code list is five times bigger than the ICD-9, some believe the system isn’t as difficult once you get through the upgrade and training processes. The least stressful transitions will be enjoyed by those that get ready as early as possible.
If your practice management and EHR solutions providers either can’t or won’t answer your questions, we invite you to contact our solutions experts today.
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