A year away from ICD-10, what to do now to prepare

In August, a final rule from HHS officially confirmed Oct. 1, 2015 will be the compliance deadline for U.S. healthcare providers to begin using the ICD-10 coding system.

The ICD-10 transition was delayed in March, when language included in the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, or so-called "doc fix bill," stated HHS cannot require healthcare providers to switch to ICD-10 until at least Oct. 1, 2015, a year later than the previous deadline.

The compliance deadline delay does not mean providers should delay their ICD-10 preparations, says Josh Berman, director of business analytics and the ICD-10 lead at McKesson. Even now, a year away from the new deadline, providers should be working to ensure they are ready for the switch.

Mr. Berman advises providers break down their preparation efforts into three pieces — readiness, transparency and testing.

The technology aspect of readiness, if not easy, is at least straightforward, says Mr. Berman. "Technology readiness is just making sure the products are ready," he says. "It's just getting the checklists and making sure the systems are ready, though this process can be fairly daunting at some large hospitals."

The processes are the more complicated part, which is where transparency and testing come in. Mr. Berman advocates providers contact their payers to find out their testing procedures for ICD-10. "Most payers are not allowing more than 10 or 20 providers to test with them," he says. "So providers need to make sure those payers are being transparent [about testing results] because they're only testing with a very small percent of providers."

Regardless of payers' testing setups, providers should do what they can to participate in any internal or end-to-end testing opportunities. "It can help to answer that key question of, 'Am I going to get paid correctly and on time without additional issues?'" says Mr. Berman.

For providers that had been diligently preparing for ICD-10 before the delay, Mr. Berman says it is important to keep pushing forward, though intensity can be tapered in the face of budgetary concerns. "It's simple to say, 'Just keep going,' but training is expensive," he says. "So if you're training every day, maybe start training every other day, or if you've been testing in batches of 50 [claims], maybe test with 25."

For providers that have not been preparing for the transition, now is the time to start, says Mr. Berman. "If everyone waits until July of next year to move forward with readiness it will be a big mess," he says. "It's get-moving time."

More articles on ICD-10:

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