There’s no denying that the changeover process to ICD-10 is challenging. Most healthcare organizations have competing projects and regulatory priorities. Managing the transition to this new code set—with its increasing complexity and costs—on top of everything else only adds to the stress. Fortunately, both the stress and cost can be mitigated through a planned approach to the transition.

Fortunately, both the stress and cost can be mitigated through a planned approach to the transition.

Preparation is key to a smooth code set adoption. A good idea is to have a training program in place anywhere from six months to a year before the go-live. AHIMA recommends at least 60 hours of extensive training for hospital coding staff. Ideally, education should be ongoing for a seamless switch on October 1, 2014. But if time is limited and there’s no way around roadblocks, plan to have staff practicing closer to the date so the information is fresh in their minds. This will help offset productivity losses.

Consider, too, what tactical approach you’ll take. Dual coding, whereby staff can work in both ICD-9 and ICD-10 at the same time, can help maintain productivity levels after the transition because it helps improve familiarity with the new code set and speed up chart completion, which will be especially important in the first few months after the changeover. Taking this type of approach also allows you to assess readiness and plan extra training sessions as needed.

Planning ahead should also include making sure you have the best solutions to aid in the transition. One of those solutions should be an easily accessible, Web-based integrated information technology solution containing:

Finally, the complexity of the ICD-10 transition will make it virtually impossible to complete without establishing coordination and strong partnerships between Clinical documentation specialists, physicians, and health information management team. In order to make the switch successfully, it is essential to work with a vendor to help plan and execute the changes that need to be made to your organization’s processes and systems.

The change to ICD-10 is significant and will impact nearly every aspect of your organization. But you don’t have to go it alone. Streamline Health can help you stay ahead of the ever-changing curve with a unique combination of health information technology solutions designed to help you confront some of the most important issues facing today’s providers.

Daphnee Fuentevilla, RHIA, is Solutions Manager for Coding and CDI Solutions for Streamline Health.