By Kevin Wilson, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

November 23, 2015 -- ICD-10 is the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD). It is a medical classification by the World Health Organization (WHO) and contains codes for diseases, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or diseases. The deadline for compliance of the ICD-10 transition was October 1, 2015.

Kevin Wilson
Kevin Wilson is the CEO of Sterling Management.

If your office doesn't accept Medicaid (or work with a hospital for Medicare), then you already know that ICD-10 does not directly apply to you.

That said, learning all the new codes and language for implementation takes time and energy on top of your existing patient care. Thus, implementation of ICD-10 could cause confusion and lessen production in any practice if not executed properly.

Of course how much of a problem it creates depends on how many Medicaid patients you are serving daily in your practice. If you are seeing few of these patients, then it's not much of a problem. However, if it's the majority of your work, then you could get overwhelmed, as every patient could need different codes and the more codes needed, the more difficult the learning curve and the harder the implementation.

We advise all our clients to not depend on Medicaid, as the government program only penalizes end users by having them fill out extra or usually unnecessary forms, requiring them to have an ever-changing code knowledge, and not paying the provider's deserved higher fees, and instead cuts their fees by an average of 60%, according to an October 2014 ADA Health Policy Institute research brief. Dealing with any government agency is always a pain, as I'm sure you'll agree. Those who come to us with a heavy dependence on these programs are taught how to wean the practice off the plans and not deal with the government. As any practice already deals enough with government taxes and regulations, why make it part of your daily existence any more than you have to?

3 rules

Practices should follow certain rules when it comes to implementing something new, such as ICD-10.

“Implementation of ICD-10 could cause confusion and lessen production in any practice if not executed properly.”

1. Increase production

You should never stop, hinder, or create less production to accommodate the new changes. Always work to increase production -- always. In other words, do not lessen the schedule to accommodate the changes.

2. Don't change what works

Do not put new projects on existing working production lines until the bugs have been worked out and the new projects can easily flow into the existing production lines.

3. Get professional help

Either hire outside help to implement the changes and perform the new tasks or pay existing staff overtime to implement the changes. But if you choose to use your existing staff, do so only if they are so productive that their schedule does not permit them to work on it during regular production hours.

Common sense will need to be applied here. Obviously, if you have underutilized staff, they could work on this new change on a schedule that doesn't interfere with production. This would be your first option. Your second option would be scheduling existing staff for extra time if they are willing to work overtime to get it accomplished.

If you cannot work out how to implement the above steps, professional consulting help might be needed. This help needs to be in terms of how to organize your practice so that the production does not slow down for the sake of this mandatory program.

Summary

Government programs appear to be threatening and overwhelming and more important than your production, but your production is more important. Yes, you must handle these changes, unless you are not a government program provider. But your production is more important. Do both-- implement change without sacrificing production and without freaking out over these new changes.

Kevin Wilson is the CEO of Sterling Management. He can be reached at kw@sterling.us.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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Last Updated hh 11/20/2015 4:39:25 PM