The ICD-10 Transition:
A Phased, Measured Approach for Physician Practices

Provided by: Complete Practice Resources

By October 2 of this year, every physician, hospital, and treatment facility that provides medical care will need to start using the ICD-10 code set. It will impact everyone within your practice and it is not just an IT issue or something that your billing department can handle.

After conducting dozens of physician practice-focused ICD-10 workshops around the country, we have learned the currently accepted approach to ICD-10 implementation is not appropriate. Physicians do not have a clear sense of what ICD-10 really is and what it will mean to their practice. Moving these practices immediately toward impact analyses, implementation planning, and code set training is ineffective given the lack of awareness and engagement.

What makes sense is a sane, measured, and phased approach to the ICD-10 transition with each phase being prerequisite for the next. Here are the phases.

1. Engaging and educating Physicians and Staff

2. Assessing Current Readiness and Impact

3. Creating your Timeline and Transition Plan

4. Implementing your Transition Plan

5. Post Transition Analysis and Reporting

Phase 1: Engaging and Educating physicians and staff

Engaging and educating physicians and staff about ICD-10 and what it will mean to their practice are essential in order for them to make informed choices about implementation. Most practices are currently in this phase due to a variety of reasons, chief among them the uncertainty caused by announced delays and mixed messages from peer leadership. Instead of focusing on the battle cry of “70,000 codes are absurd,” physicians need to focus on understanding their role as the cornerstone for ICD-10 transition and exactly what that involves. Only when that and the real benefits and pitfalls of ICD-10 are understood will physician practices be ready to move to the next phase.

Phase 2: Assessing Current Readiness and Impact

Once physician “buy-in” is established, productive work can begin. Phase 2 is the fact-finding stage necessary to gather the data to develop the implementation plan and timeline. There exists ICD-10 impact everywhere a diagnosis code touches the practice. The readiness assessment examines the effect of ICD-10 on each area and identifies what needs to be done in the planning and implementation phases to manage that ICD-10 impact. This knowledge prepares the practice for phase 3.

Phase 3: Creating your Timeline and Implementation Plan

Once the current readiness and impact analyses are completed, the practice can develop a clear list of objectives required to create the implementation timeline and plan. Plan objectives are constructed from the action items revealed in phase two. Assuming the government upholds the anticipated Oct. 1, 2014 mandatory date, a timeline for rolling out the plan can be created. Practices are strongly urged to use this time to transition in a sane, orderly fashion. Waiting until the end of the transition period to begin implementation efforts is needlessly more expensive and chaotic. Budget and transition funding needs are identified in conjunction with plan development. Creating the implementation plan is uncomplicated if a thorough phase two impact analysis is performed.

Phase 4: Implementing the Transition Plan

Developing a comprehensive plan in phase three will ease the actual implementation. Experience from other countries that have already implemented ICD-10 has shown that communication and an early start to implementing the plan are keys to ICD-10 transition success. Assigning deadlines and accountability is required if the plan and timeline objectives are to succeed. Careful plan oversight ensures deadlines and objectives are met. Frequent communication amongst all stakeholders about how the implementation is progressing allows for plan adjustments. The primary benefit of a well implemented plan is that it reduces costs and negative impact on practice operations.

Phase 5: Post Transition Analysis and Reporting

Validating the actual success of the practice’s ICD-10 implementation can only be measured after the ICD-10 transition date. Generally, this phase compares what was imagined to what is real and then makes accommodations for the difference. Were revenue forecasts valid? Do day-to-day work processes need to be further adjusted? Was training adequate? Are further enhancements to IT systems required? Are reporting dashboards available that actually measure what needs to be measured? In order to handle these unanticipated changes, an overall system to implement these adjustments must be in place before the transition date occurs.

Successful ICD-10 implementation requires a phased approach that can only transpire once physician ICD-10 awareness and education occurs. Once physicians have a well-defined sense of what ICD-10 really is and what it means to their practice, productive transition work can begin. Adequate time exists for a rational, reasonable approach. Delaying this phased approach expends needless dollars and creates undue stress and pressure.

For more information on Complete Practice Resources or our ICD-10 Products & Services, please contact a representative at 855.ICD.10CM (855.423.1026) or visit and mention you are an SMA member.

Complete Practice Resources
663 Brownswitch Rd.
Suite 3
Slidell, LA 70458

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