CMS offers tips on assembling an ICD-10 project team

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent an email this week with tips on assembling a project team responsible for overseeing the ICD-10 planning and implementation process.

Here's the text of their update:

Select Your Team

Since ICD-10 will affect nearly all areas of your practice, project teams should consist of representatives from key areas of your organization, including:

  • Senior Management
  • Health Information Management/Coding
  • Billing/Finance
  • Compliance
  • Revenue Cycle Management
  • Information Systems and Technology

This multi-disciplinary team provides the cooperative environment necessary to address your organization's needs. If you run a small business or practice, several of these functional areas may rest with the same individuals, making your transition team smaller.

Appoint a Project Manager

Once members of the project team have been selected, appoint one team member to serve as the project manager. As the manager, he or she will be responsible for establishing accountability across the ICD-10 implementation team and making business, policy, and technical decisions.

Your Team's Initial Tasks

With an established project team and a designated project lead, you'll be ready to begin planning for ICD-10 implementation. Project teams should:

  • Establish regular check-in meetings to discuss progress and address any issues. 
  • Conduct an ICD-10 impact assessment to help you determine how the transition to ICD-10 will affect your organization, and allow you to schedule and budget for all ICD-10 activities. 
  • Plan a comprehensive and realistic budget. This should include costs such as software upgrades and training needs.
  • Identify and ensure involvement and commitment of all internal and external stakeholders. Contact vendors, physicians, affiliated hospitals, clearinghouses, and others to determine their plans for ICD-10 transition.
  • Develop and adhere to a well-defined implementation timeline that makes sense for your organization.

Communicate Regularly

Remember to communicate regularly with your entire ICD-10 project team! Keeping the lines of communication open will help make sure everyone is kept up to date on the implementation progress. It may be helpful to establish and circulate a calendar of internal tasks, milestones, and deadlines to help keep day-to-day activities running smoothly and on schedule.

ICD-10 Tools: Beyond Simple Mapping and Translation

Steve Sisko lists some features you will need in ICD-10 assessment tools:

  • Analyzing Your Data, Software and System Configuration Tables
  • Handling Groups, Lists and Ranges of Codes
  • Normalizing Diagnoses Codes for Testing and Production Purposes
  • Incorporate Reference Information and Allow for Annotations

(ICD-10 Impact to Health Care Payers & Providers)

Five Reasons Your ICD-10 Project Starts Today

John Owens, the Director of Client Development at DECA Financial Services, lists five reasons why it's important to start the ICD-10 transition now. There are two incredibly compelling points that can't be ignored:

  • The people you do business with may not be as prepared as you.
  • It will take time to find people who can help you.


Deciding When and How to Start the ICD-10 Conversion? Ideas Here

Here's a good post on how to get started with the ICD-10 transition. The idea is that you need to understand how your medical practice creates and communicates ICD-9 codes in order to make it easier to use ICD-10 codes. (Manage My

6 Considerations for Choosing Your ICD-10 Services Partner

Steve Sisko explains how to pick a consultant or vendor who can best help plan for the ICD-10 transition:

  • Payer Expertise vs. Provider Expertise?
  • Does Size Matter?
  •  Partner vs. Senior vs. Junior?
  • Ours, All Ours! Or Sure, We Can Share!
  • On-site, Remote or a Healthy Mix of Both?
  • Tools & Templates or Time & Expense?

(ICD-10 Impact to Health Care Payers & Providers)

Computer-assisted coding promises to ease the pain of the ICD-10 transition

John Halamka, chief information officer and dean for technology at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconness, will never be accused of being a cheerleader for the ICD-10 code sets.

So when he calls computer assisted coding (CAC) a possible "silver bullet" for the burdens of ICD-10 implementation, it's worth listening.

But what makes this post a must read is his examination of the complications of using CAC. Primarily most systems are designed to query clinicians when they don't get enough specificity to create an ICD-10 code. That could create another workflow burden.

Halamka also cites the technology needed for electronic health records (EHRs) to communicate with CAC systems.

He promises more on this subject, and that's welcome news. He's giving very valuable information on how to make a major investment in healthcare information technology. (MedCity News)

ICD-10 Delay – How Disruptive Regulations and Risk Can Provide Immediate Financial Benefit

Michael Arrigo explains the shift that healthcare vendors and consultants have taken in selling ICD-10 services. Actually they're selling revenue improvement. By finding ways to boost income, Arrigo argues that the found money should be used to pay for the ICD-10 transition. (No World Borders)

20 must-follow ICD-10 tweeters

To be honest, I'm not crazy about this list. And not just because I'm not on it (@ICD10Watcher). But following these 20 people will create a high noise to signal ratio. At least one doesn't bother reading the content before the links are tweeted. And most of the people retweet each other. So you're going to see a lot of the same links repeated. (Healthcare Finance News)

ICD-11 Revision Beta drafting process: stakeholder participation

Here's a pretty thorough explanation of the status of the ICD-11 code set. It's required reading for anyone who wants to debate leapfrogging over ICD-10 implementation. (Dx Revision Watch)

ICD-10 or ICD-11? The Dilemma Behind Both Coding Systems

Jon Elion, MD, does a bit of a comparison between the ICD-10 and ICD-11 code sets. The two takeaways are:

  1. He doesn't think it will take as long to develop usable versions of ICD-11 codes as it did to develop ICD-10-CM/PCS.
  2. It's important to develop HIT systems that can be easily adapted to work with inevitable changes. For example, there's going to an ICD-12 some day.

Elion writes a reasonable post that is a must read before you take any sides in the leapfrogging debate. (Becker's Hospital Review)

Times They Are a Changin'

Albert Oriol, chief information officer at Rady Children's Hospital San Diego, has some thoughts about staffing medical coders and computer assisted coding (CAC). He finds per diem coders are a good way to fill scheduling gaps while maintaining quality. And he says CAC is clunky. (H&HN Daily)

Three Simple Steps to Streamline Rejections and Denials Workflow

Kristi Kenney's list doesn't look so simple. But it's a pretty good primer on medical claims rejections and denials. (Daily Practice Blog)

Measuring the Financial Impact of ICD-10 Conversion

Evan Albright has a pretty good run down of how to assess the impact to revenue. (insidePatientFinance)

Measuring the Financial Impact of ICD-10 Conversion, Part 2

The second part is more of a case study. Very good information in it. (



ICD-10: Potential Financial Benefits and Issues

Jatinder Koharki writes a decent post on five financial benefits of ICD-10 implementation and five challenges it creates. (Perficient Healthcare IT Solutions Blog)

ICD-10 codes and its Impact on Denial Management

Basically the jury is still out on what the greater specificity of ICD-10 codes will mean for medical claims and reimbursements. (Multiply Marketplace USA)

Availity’s “ICD-10 Webinar Series” Delivers Free Education for Physicians in Response to Impending Diagnosis and Procedure Code Changes

Availity announced a four-part webinar series on ICD-10 preparation. You can sign up for the webinars at the Availity Learning Center. Here's the schedule:

  • ICD-10: Overview and Implementation Planning: Noon, Aug. 23, presented by Shelly Cronin, Director of ICD-10, American Academy of Processional Coders
  • ICD-10: Overcoming Medical Documentation Hurdles: Noon, Sept. 20, presented by Rhonda Buckholtz, vice president of ICD-10 Training and Education, American Academy of Professional Coders
  • ICD-10: Future of Superbills: Noon, Oct. 11, presented by Rhonda Buckholtz, vice president of ICD-10 Training and Education, American Academy of Professional Coders
  • ICD-10: From the Payer Perspective: Noon, Nov. 8, presented by George Vancore, IT Systems Integrator/Business Architect, Florida Blue

(Enhanced Online News press release)

Very few hospitals in Madhya Pradesh are ICD-10 compliant

No word from the AMA on whether they're going to adopt the Indian strategy of simply ignoring ICD-10 codes. (The Times of India)

Proposed new diagnoses of anxious depression and bodily stress syndrome in ICD-11-PHC: an international focus group study

Focus groups in seven countries outside of the United States discuss the classification of mental and behavioral disorders in ICD-11. Subscription required to read the paper. (Oxford Journals)