10 important ICD-10 questions to ask your EHR vendor

With ICD-10 only a few months away, practices need to ensure that their electronic health record (EHR) vendor is ready for the transition. Only 40% of vendors indicated that their ICD-10 product development is complete, according to the September 2014 ICD-10 Readiness Survey published by Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI). Practices must perform due diligence to ensure that the specific vendor with which they contract will be ready for this monumental transition. This is not only good business practice, but it also ensures a peace of mind.

This article provides 10 questions practices should ask their EHR vendor between now and go-live on October 1, 2015. Note: If your practice intends to purchase or upgrade an EHR in the next several months, ensure that these questions are included in the conversation.

1. Is the EHR fully compatible with ICD-10? If not, when will this occur? How will this information be subsequently communicated to the practice?

2. Can the EHR help the practice transition to ICD-10 in any way? For example, will the product suggest certain ICD-10 codes to physicians? If so, how can physicians verify the accuracy of these suggestions? Will templates within the EHR prompt physicians to document certain details necessary for ICD-10? Is the product able to allow coders to practice dual coding?

3. Who can the practice contact when ICD-10 questions arise? For example, who is the dedicated contact person who can address technical glitches that may occur after go-live?

4. Will the vendor be able to process both ICD-10 and ICD-9 codes beyond October 1, 2014? This may be necessary for data collection and analysis, particularly related to non-HIPAA-covered entities that may not make the transition to ICD-10.

5. Will the practice incur any additional EHR-related costs as a result of ICD-10? Some vendors may require complete upgrades to accommodate ICD-10. If this is the case, what is the cost associated with those upgrades? Does the practice need to purchase any new hardware as well?

6. What ICD-10 training does the vendor provide? Many vendors provide free webinars and other resources for practices making the transition to ICD-10. Some vendors may even provide specialty-specific resources and guides.

7. What's the vendor's strategy for mapping ICD-9 to ICD-10? This is a complex process that shouldn't have a simple answer. Reliance on the General Equivalence Mappings is not sufficient. The vendor should be able to articulate a highly-involved cross-walking process.

8.What is the vendor's external testing strategy? This should address with whom the vendor is testing and when. If this testing has already occurred, what were the results and overall success rate? What problems were identified, and how were those problems addressed? Can the vendor help the practice test the EHR with its various payers?

9. What is the vendor's staffing strategy around ICD-10? For example, does the vendor intend to increase staffing to support ICD-10 readiness? Will additional staff members be added post-go-live to support troubleshooting?

10. What is the vendor's overall communication strategy regarding ICD-10? Ask how the vendor intends to keep practices informed of any changes it makes between now and go-live as well as any alterations that occur after October 1, 2015. For example, does the vendor provide an electronic newsletter, dedicated Web site, or monthly newsletter to which practices can subscribe?

Strategies for success
When contacting your vendor, be sure to note with whom you speak and when. Also note a summary of the exchange. Follow-up, as necessary, to hold your vendor accountable. Opening the lines of communication not only assists practices with ICD-9 compliance but it will also be beneficial in the uncharted waters of ICD-10.

RevenueXL's PrognoCIS EHR is ICD-10 ready. Request your free demo today and learn more about PrognoCIS ICD-10 ready EHR Software.

Alok Prasad is the President of RevenueXL Inc. which provides compelling EMR Software and Revenue Cycle solutions to small and mid-sized practices. RevenueXL offers free EHR software to its medical billing clients.

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