Five ICD-10 challenges that may surprise healthcare providers
Since ICD-10 implementation affects almost every department in a medical practice or hospital, it's fair to say that it's more than a medical coding problem. There are plenty of challenges to tackle across the organization.
In addition to learning new medical codes and buying new technology, healthcare organizations will face:
Project planning challenges
ICD-10 implementation is going to require coordination of a lot of moving parts and oversee:
- Schedule meetings
- Create teams
- Recruit champions
- Plan education and training sessions
- Create impact assessments
- Communicate with vendors and consultants
- Perhaps hire said consultants
Financial planning challenges
Perhaps ICD-10 opponents are a bit too fixated on estimated costs of making systems and equipment ICD-10 compatible. I'm not saying it's going to be cheap. But there's more to it:
- Revenue: Reimbursements can be affected by DRG shifts.
- Cash flow: The accounts receivable cycle can increase due to healthcare payer delays and a decrease in medical coding productivity
- Operational cost: Are you going to hire more staff to cope with decreased productivity?
The drop in Canadian medical coder productivity is almost legendary - 40 percent. It's the boogey man of ICD-10 implementation. But there is hope that healthcare organizations can boost productivity now by:
- Using computer assisted coding (CAC)
- Implementing electronic health records (EHR)
- Hiring and training staff
- Enhancing the workplace
[See also: How to boost medical coding productivity]
There are so many constituencies who need to be informed about the ICD-10 transition. And you need to gather information from various groups:
- Ensure the executive level knows how the ICD-10 transition is working.
- Coordinate with healthcare payers, vendors and consultants.
- Collaborate with other project teams.
- Keep affected staff members informed about changes.
There aren't a lot of healthcare professionals who are thrilled to be tackling ICD-10 implementation:
- Physicians have reservations about documentation requirements.
- Some medical coders don't want to learn new diagnosis and procedure codes.
- IT staff are juggling other system upgrades.
All these challenges don't mean that ICD-10 implementation needs to be scrapped. These are all hurdles that can be overcome with planning and effort. You need to start with awareness to be successful though.