Five ICD-10 challenges that may surprise healthcare providers

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

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

[See also: ICD-10 Transition: It's time to hone your project management skills]

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?

[See also: ICD-10 Risks: Assessing how much migration will hurt]

Productivity challenges

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]

Communication challenges

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.

[See also: CMS has advice on sharing ICD-10 transition information]

Morale challenges

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.

[See also: ICD-10 Transition: How to engage, not scare, physicians]

 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.