Is your EHR helping or hurting your ICD-10 transition?

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale
Is your EHR helping or hurting your ICD-10 transition?

Sometimes when someone gets angry about my ICD-10 advocacy, they drag the electronic health record (EHR) into the argument. The EHR they use already is frustrating and time consuming. ICD-10 complexity will make it worse.

Which should be a crime.

EHRs should be helping physicians. The systems should make it easier to enter data. And make it easier to retrieve it.

If it is failing in those regards, then someone failed to do their job or lied. Should be a crime.

But healthcare organizations are like most organizations. Sometimes they don't make the best tech decisions. That means the users have serious workflow issues because of the clumsy tech.

So it's not hard to understand why frustrated physicians aren't loving the idea of using a larger, more complicated coding system. ICD-1o coding can only make things worse.

Maybe not.

Lea Chatham goes through the reasons why EHRs are essential tools in ICD-10 implementation:

  1. Templates can guide clinicians to the correct, specific ICD-10 codes.
  2. Clinicians can use print and export functions to support medical necessity.
  3. Coding crosswalks and dual coding tools help choose the correct ICD-10 code.
  4. An electronic superbill will be more usable than a paper superbill.
  5. Electronic billing and claims systems reduce errors and increase efficiency.

That's the dream. How do you make sure it becomes reality for your medical practice?

Start by asking questions. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has some questions worth asking between now and Oct. 1?

  • "Will there be additional costs to accommodate ICD-10 codes?"
  • "Will my contract need to be modified to include ICD-10 codes? If so, what are the terms?"
  • "Will my system be ICD-10 ready by Oct. 1 so I can begin ICD-10 testing?"
  • "What level of customer support and training is offered? Are those costs included in the contract?"

Although that testing question is a bit out of place. That ship may have sailed.

For medical practices starting the process from scratch, try these questions on all vendors:

  • Are your products be ready for ICD-10 compliance?
  • How does your product simplify my organization's transition to ICD-10?
  • How does the functionality offered by your system compare with my current system?
  • Does your implementation require a complete system conversion?
  • Based on what I already have in place, how much will it cost to convert to your system?
  • What are the costs of maintenance for your product?
  • Will there be training for your products available?
    • Does training cost extra?
    • How much time will training take?
  • Who in this area is using your current system?
    • Talking to vendors' existing clientele in your area about their experience with that vendor may help you identify if the vendor's services are a good fit for your organization.
  • What kind of product quality guarantees do you offer, and are these guarantees included in the contract?
  • What is your timeframe for implementation?
    • Does that timeframe include testing?

Making sure that your next (or first) EHR will make ICD-10 coding easier is not a slam dunk. It takes homework — which will pay off.