Make sure your agency is ready for ICD-10 Now

ICD-10 is coming and will be effective on Thursday, October 1, 2015. Is your staff ready for the changes required?
If you haven’t planned any type of training or in-services yet, you must act now! A recent survey of healthcare professions indicates that more than 85% expect ICD-10 to go into effect in October without another delay.


Most agencies have already started to prepare.  Staff have been educated with the intent of providing a refresher in September. But, many agencies are holding off until this summer so that information is fresh and ready for use in September and October.


Since time is of the essence, we are going to outline the best practice approach to ensuring your agency is ready for October 1st.  Remember, if you aren’t able to correctly code your OASIS as of October 1st, you can expect claim errors and rejections.  For many agencies, that disruption of cash flow can be disastrous.


One of the first things you need to determine is how you are going to provide your staff education. Will you use webinars, DVD based courses, live classes in your office or send staff to training classes?  Of the options, webinars, DVDs and live classes in your office are the most affordable.  If you choose the option of live seminars, which select staff will you send, keeping in mind that they will need to return fully able to come educate the other rest of your staff?


After you selected your source of information, a schedule needs to be set and that schedule needs to be enforced! Many times a well-intentioned schedule will be adjusted to meet the needs of certain individuals rather than the needs of your agency.  ICD-10 is too important to be pushed off.  It has a direct effect on your cash flow.  The schedule must be set in stone with no exceptions.  If a clinician or staff member is unable to make a set day and time, a makeup time for clinicians must be offered before the next meeting.


Also to be clear, ICD-10 is not something that can be learned in one day or one meeting.  ICD-10 is a process of educating staff and teaching them how to use the new required methods.  When planning your schedule, it is best to spread the training over a consistent period. For instance a four hour per week schedule, twice per week for 3 weeks would be an ideal period in which to train staff.


At this point in the preparation for ICD-10, almost all software providers are now allowing users to code with ICD-9 and ICD-10.  Your agency should be familiar with this feature and allow training staff to begin getting acquainted with the coding requirements that will be necessary for use when ICD-10 is activated.


Who should be receiving the training? Clinicians, coders and Quality Assurance staff will all need to know the new system of coding.  It is expected that, to fully train staff, allowing for a solid foundation of understanding, 20-24 hours of education will be necessary.  A three week, 8 hours per week training schedule will fulfill this need and ensure your clinicians success.


The training you provide to staff should not be viewed as a nuisance, but rather an investment.  Due to the complicated nature and direct impact ICD-10 has on your ability to operate, waiting for the last minute to spend a couple of hours in September is not an option.


Once ICD-10 has been implemented on October 1st, you can expect your productivity of QA staff to decrease, as the amount of time it takes to code an OASIS will greatly increase.  In the first few months, you should see coding take about 50% longer than it does now with ICD-9.

Agencies should try to make sure as much billing and coding is done prior to October 1st as possible.  You should ensure and in some cases, request clinical staff work the weekend before October 1st (September 26-27th) in order to make sure there are no open OASIS, and all claims that can be submitted during the three business days (September 28-30th) are transmitted.


This might seem like an extreme measure, but having as many claims as possible submitted using ICD-9 will provide you a cushion of incoming cash, should a disruption occur. ICD-10 will not be easy, so a strong tactical plan that protects your agency is going to be essential.  We are likely to see some agencies not survive the transition to ICD-10 due to the lack of readiness, resources, and proper planning.


Our best advice to you is: don’t wait. Start this week.  Have a meeting and set the schedule.  Let staff know that ICD-10 training is mandatory and any missed sessions will need to be made up.  Your agency’s future is on the line – you must be ready!