Smaller Practices need to focus on ICD-10 training and implementation

The upcoming transition to the new set of ICD-10 billing codes threatens to disrupt the finances of healthcare providers across the United States. However, hospital networks and health systems may have more financial wiggle room compared to offices that employ only a handful of physicians.

For small practices, a hold on revenue for even a few days could cause complications that take months to iron out. By failing to properly prepare for the ICD-10 deadline on October 1, these smaller practices might encounter financial challenges.

NueMD, one of our billing partners, says it is important that small practices know the best ways to mitigate these two potential speed bumps before they occur.

Training costs lower than estimated

If staff members don’t practice using ICD-10 codes before the transition deadline, problems are almost guaranteed to occur.

According to a study by 3M Health Information Systems and published in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association, small practices will need to spend between $1,960 and $5,900 on training and educational materials. This is much lower than previous estimates thanks to advances in software.

Whether practices employ dual-coding training methods before the transition or after, it is likely that staff members can’t work through the same number of claims that they otherwise would. The authors also noted that practices will almost certainly see disruptions to revenue streams as a result of lost production during these training periods.

Thus, small practices may need to find different medical billing solutions that ease any training costs.

Implementation relies on proper software

Although ICD-10 is largely a medical billing issue, the shift toward coordinated care as well as the rise of electronic health records (EHRs) have created a clinical environment in which codes can flow fluidly from the chart to claim. However, as the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) explained in a whitepaper on ICD-10 testing, small practices may not be as prepared.

One of WEDI’s primary objectives during the most recent testing week run by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was to emphasize the need for EHR and ICD-10 integration. Many practices may still be using an outdated EHR that’s not compatible with the new codes and cannot produce claim reports. Otherwise, administrators will need to manually input ICD-10 claims, drastically hampering productivity and potentially delaying reimbursements.

WEDI urged all practices to get in contact with their EHR vendors and confirm that their software is compliant with the upcoming transition.

Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser for the Medical Group Management Association, told Physicians’ Practice that it will not hurt to give vendors a slight nudge to make them aware of problems small practices are facing.

“They may be upgrading only the latest version of their software, so if you’re running an older version you’re going to have to spend some money on software upgrades, and hardware upgrades necessary to run that new software,” Tennant said.

Preparing is best categorized as a marathon rather than a sprint. Small practices who begin early by identifying their most pressing needs can work on optimizing their solutions far before the Oct 1, 2015 deadline. As WEDI noted, providers who wait until the last minute to begin ICD-10 preparations may never have a chance to catch up with the rest of the pack.

Practice Fusion makes ICD-10 easy

Practice Fusion’s cloud-based electronic health record will make ICD-10 implementation easier for smaller practices and can help you avoid productivity and cash flow loss:

  • No software to download or install. Your EHR and billing software will be automatically updated for ICD-10.

  • No need to adjust your reimbursement practices. Your EHR and billing software will ensure your ICD-10 transactions are working smoothly well before the switchover.

  • Access your files from anywhere. Need to add a code to a chart? Access your files from anywhere you have an internet connection.

Visit our ICD-10 Center or watch our recorded ICD-10 Webinar.

Practice Fusion’s Director of Clinical Program Management will provide an overview of the changes to expect with ICD-10, as well as how to transition to ICD-10 in your daily workflows.