CMS recently signaled that it intends to stand firm on its Oct. 1, 2014, implementation date for the ICD-10-CM code sets for outpatient diagnosis coding. The transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 will increase by nearly fivefold the number of diagnosis codes available to health care professionals.
To help physicians prepare for the transition, CMS also updated its resources(www.cms.gov) for small, medium and large physician practices to include "at-a-glance" timelines, as well as comprehensive transition checklists.
For example, the checklists suggest that practices of all sizes currently should be engaged in planning, communication and assessment activities, such as creating an ICD-10 project team, as well as a project plan that identifies tasks, deadlines and responsible parties.
In addition, all practices should be engaged in discussions right now with payers and vendors -- including claims clearinghouses and billing services -- about their readiness to move forward with ICD-10.
CMS urges all practices to ensure ample time for staff training and system testing for the transition to ICD-10. Problems detected after the 2014 full implementation could cause cash flow problems; disruption in payment would be particularly difficult for small practices because they often operate on thin margins.
Some activities on the checklist are highlighted in red. For example, in April, May and June of 2013, physicians need to begin testing within their practices by
- using ICD-10 codes for the most common diagnoses seen in the practice and
- confirming that all data and reports generated are accurate.
By October 2013, physicians should expand ICD-10 testing to include business partners outside the practice, and that process should continue for a minimum of 10 months to ensure that all systems are in place and working properly before full implementation on Oct. 1, 2014.
One final note about the compliance date: Physicians should continue to use ICD-9 codes to bill for services provided before Oct. 1, 2014, even if the billing process takes place after the transition. ICD-10 codes must be used for all services provided on or after Oct. 1, 2014.
Expert help for family physicians making the transition to ICD-10 also is available from the AAFP.
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Free Webinar Helps Family Physicians Prepare for ICD-10