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Despite the possible implementation delay of ICD-10, your organization should continue to work on preparing for the new code sets. Even if your organization hasn’t completed a full ICD-10 assessment, you can check some things off your to-do list now. For example, you can review current encounter forms and electronic health record templates and get them ready; it will be one less thing to do later. Specifically, take the following steps:

  1. Determine the current volume of DX code selections from encounter forms and templates. You should be able to get this information from your reporting module or data warehouse.
  2. Take your top 20 diagnosis codes and look them up using an ICD-10 tool such as the AAPC’s ICD-10 Code Translator.
  3. Apply the CMS GEMs mapping crosswalks to be sure that your organization has a comprehensive view of the ICD-10 code selection available for individual diagnosis categories.
  4. Have your expert coders review diagnosis selection for each diagnosis category and select the most appropriate diagnosis codes for the encounter form being used.
    1. Ensure that your expert coders know the importance of reviewing the CMS ICD-10-CM Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting ICD-10-CM. These guidelines are a set of rules that have been developed to accompany and complement the official conventions and instructions provided within ICD-10-CM itself; they were developed to assist both the healthcare provider and the coder in identifying diagnoses and procedures that are to be reported.
    2. Take the results and tally them up against current encounter forms and/or templates to determine your optimal approach to requirements for ensuring additional specificity and granularity. For example, be sure there is a process through which your intake specialists can obtain additional requirements for ICD-10, such as the following questions: Who was directly involved in the incident, or was the patient a passenger (in the case of an injury)? Is this the patient’s first encounter, or a subsequent visit?

The possible ICD-10 delay may allow healthcare organizations to move through the implementation process at a more moderate pace, helping to ensure accuracy and reduce stress levels along the way. Let’s not use the extended timeline to delay the fire drill, though – keep checking off your ICD-10 to-do items!

About the Author

Anita Archer has extensive management experience in the healthcare industry, with an emphasis on revenue cycle management and systems implementation and support. She is a certified professional coder and an AHIMA-approved ICD-10-CM/PCS trainer, and has been responsible for revenue cycle improvements in physician practices, hospitals and ancillary services. She has extensive system implementation experience and is a superb project manager and team leader. Anita is currently the director of regulatory compliance at Hayes Management Consulting.

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