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Overcoming 5 Obstacles in the ICD-10 Conversion Process
Posted by The HCI Group
on August 14, 2013 at 10:57 AM

The looming ICD-10 conversion presents both opportunities and challenges to healthcare organizations. With the October 1, 2015 compliance date coming quickly, the time you have to get up to speed is rapidly dwindling. If you're like many companies, though, your conversion process might not be moving as fast as it should. In an Aloft Group study of healthcare professionals, almost three-quarters of the respondents indicated that their organization either hadn't started its ICD-10 conversion process at all or was less than 25 percent of the way through it.

If you're in this situation, you're in good company. Getting started on your ICD-10 conversion process sooner rather than later can help you to pull ahead of your competition and deadline. The longer you wait to get started, the more your organization will be impacted by these five obstacles.

1.  Inadequately trained staff

Going from the ICD-9 to the ICD-10 coding system means that your billers will have to manage more than eight times as many billing codes. Instead of the ICD-9 system's 18,000 codes, they'll have to correctly apply approximately 150,000 codes. Furthermore, they'll have to do it using new computer-assisted coding technologies that may leave some of them behind. The change doesn't just require retraining billing and coding staff either. Your organization will also need to update the way doctors, nurses and other practitioners complete their charts. 

2.  Overlapping deadlines

While your ICD-10 conversion process nominally has to be completed before October 1, 2015, ICD-9 codes will be coexisting with it for months. The ICD-10 conversion deadline is related to the date of service, so if you provide care on September 30, but don't bill it until October 10, you'll still have to code that old claim in ICD-9. While there's no way around this requirement, an emphasis on robust staff training in the conversion process will dramatically reduce confusion.

3.  Reimbursement changes

The new codes in ICD-10 open up new avenues for reimbursement. When done correctly, the more detailed information that your practice will be providing to payers can equate to higher reimbursements that are more closely tied to the actual services you provide and your actual costs. They could also lead to lower reimbursements, though. The impact of ICD-10 will vary by practice, requiring careful planning and analysis to manage how it impacts your finances.

4. Reduced staff productivity

There can be no question that the ICD-10 conversion represents a quantum change in how medical care is described, billed and reimbursed. While training will help to minimize the transition's impact on productivity, having staff spend more time fighting with their coding and charting systems means that they spend less time with patients. The changeover will result in reduced productivity throughout the organization, but is likely to have a great impact on physician productivity. Overcoming this obstacle will require a combination of training and of either increased staffing or of decreased time designated for patient care.

5. Cashflow interruptions

As your team begins the ICD-10 conversion process, it's reasonable to expect that error rates will increase. Increased error rates will lead to increased denials of claims. As the errors get corrected, most claims will eventually go through. Along the way, though, your organization could experience a significant decrease of cash flow. Furthermore, the ICD-10 conversion doesn't only impact your organization -- it could also cause logjams at insurance companies. With this in mind, you may not be able to avoid falling victim to delayed claims compensation.

The above points highlight the importance to develop an ICD-10 conversion process. Learn more about the HCI Group’s ICD-10 Practice by clicking 'Learn more' below or contact us today for a consultation. 


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