On February 25, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), told an audience at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s annual conference there would be no more delays to ICD-10 compliance deadline of October 1, 2014.
Then on March 27, the House of Representatives passed HR 4302, a bill that implements a temporary fix for Medicare’s sustainable growth formula and delays the ICD-10 compliance deadline until 2015.
Yesterday the Senate passed the bill, now known as the Protecting Access to Medicare Act. This bill caught the Healthcare industry by surprise. The healthcare industry may be relieved to see the “fix” for Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SCR) extended for a year, but they are clearly divided on the extension of the ICD-10 implementation date, depending on how confident they are about being ready for the switch to the new
voluminous code sets.
Be that as it may, what should you do with the Extra Year? We have four thoughts.
1. Use the Time Wisely: Introduce Meaningful Use to ICD-10
Instead of rushing to implement a fix to meet a date, we have a chance to implement changes that will enhance patient care. After all, part of the reason for moving to
ICD-10 is to improve quality of care. The additional time allows your practice
to participate in Meaningful Use if you are not already. There are similarities
in physician documentation in Meaningful Use and ICD-10. Use them to your
2. Build up the ICD-10 “War Chest” and Work Out Your Pretest Strategy
Take advantage of the extra time to protect your finances by building up a cash buffer and to proactively and aggressively pretest with large payers. Consider extending your testing phase and engaging with more payers.
3. Engage with Physicians. Now.
You have more time to code final radiology reports in ICD-10, get clinician feedback and educate people on documentation quality. Identify referring physicians that are not providing the detailed medical conditions for the studies they order. Reach out and educate those referring physicians.
Reevaluate your training programs by getting feedback from your physicians and
coders so you have time to make the necessary improvements and adjustments.
Those that started training physicians will now be faced with repeating the
training next year. Physicians are more likely to balk at completing training, saying
that the implementation has been delayed twice before. Prepare to address these
4. Build up your cadre of coders.
Calculate how many more coders you will need. The extra year allows more time for recruiting certified codes, where there is a tight market for coders with experience.
We encourage you not to procrastinate. Use the additional time wisely!
The year will be up before you know it.
Sharon M. Roeder, CPC
Manager Health Information Management | vRad