Preparing Your Practice for ICD-10


With the ICD-10 compliance date delayed until October 1, 2014, Providers have been allotted more time to prepare for the transition. There are many tasks a medical practice must accomplish before the compliance date in order to ensure a smooth transition and successful payment on claims.

There are code changes every year, so what makes the ICD-10 transition different? Compared to ICD-9 codes, which are mostly numeric and comprised of 3-5 digits, the ICD-10 codes are alphanumeric and comprised of 3-7 characters. The ICD-10 codes are more descriptive and robust than their predecessors.

Claims submitted without ICD-10 codes after the October 1, 2014 compliance date will not be processed; however it is important to note that claims submitted prior to the compliance date must use ICD-9 codes as the ICD-10 codes cannot be processed early.

The transition to ICD-10 is a major undertaking that will drive changes throughout the healthcare industry and affect the entire healthcare billing community - small provider offices, hospitals, laboratories, medical testing centers and large national health plans. Advanced preparation is crucial because the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is adamant there will be no additional delays in compliance nor will there be a grace period following the October 1st deadline.

Beginning preparations now can reduce stress on Providers and staff while providing necessary time to learn the new ICD-10 codes. The practice will need to devote financial resources and staff time to the transition activities and in-house billers/coders will have to certify for ICD-10.

What can you do to prepare? Here are some of the most important tasks that will need to be accomplished and an estimated time for completion:

1)      Organize Your Implementation Plan: Approximately 2-4 weeks

Practices should first familiarize themselves with the ICD-10 requirements. Providers will also need to identify key staff members who will have an active role in the conversion to the new codes and should set a preliminary budget for any work that will need to be completed prior to October 1, 2014.

2)      Analyze Implementation Impact: Approximately 2-3 months

The practice must evaluate which work processes and electronic systems used in ICD-9 coding will need to be converted and updated for ICD-10. Determine how the transition may affect the day-to-day duties of you and your staff members.

3)      Contact Your EHR Vendor: Approximately 1-2 months; ongoing


       Reach out to your electronic health system vendor to determine when they will update

       their system to ICD-10. Be sure to ask about the cost of this update and any new

       hardware that may be necessary for your office.


4)      Budget For Implementation: Approximately 2-4 weeks; ongoing


       Once practices begin preparing for the ICD-10 transition they will have a better idea

       how much preparation remains and what the conversion will really cost them. It is

       a good idea to periodically revisit your budgeting plans for implementation and make

       any changes as needed.


Source: American Medical News, Vol. 55, No. 19, Oct. 8, 2012;