Legislation has arisen concerning the immediate aftermath of the forced ICD-10 adoption, with some saying that a grace period is needed after the October 1 deadline to guarantee successful implementation and use. Due to the greater amount of codes, proper implementation continues to be a concern. In an article for JAMIA, Mary Butler of AHIMA lays out the possible sequence of events that will follow the new code mandate as far as ten years into the future and further.
Comparing the process of settling into ICD-10 with that of purchasing a home, Butler says that some current weaknesses in ICD-10 may lead to problems between six months and a year after implementation, based on the similar problems experienced in ICD-9. However, she also acknowledges the possibility of "tweaking" changes with electronic health records after the fact.
Ultimately, ten years down the road, the code set will lead to improvements and a better state of mind, Butler says, just as homeowners feel more comfortable in a new house years after making the transition.
Concerned practitioners looking for an easier process could find specific areas to focus on. Last month, Carl Natale of ICD10Watch said that handling clinical documentation issues, for example, goes a long way toward reducing ICD-10 difficulties.
"Even if medical practices are not looking improve revenue through capturing more medical codes, they need proper clinical documentation to mitigate denials and suspended claims with requests for more information," he said. "It's also worth remembering that improving clinical documentation is better for the patient."
Contracting with healthcare coding and consulting services helps providers create a sense of preparation and will also help them find strategies to implement the codes in a manner that doesn't take up too much time or resources.