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Two Financial Challenges Doctors Will Face after the ICD-10 Transition

The October 1st, 2015, deadline for transitioning from ICD-9 to ICD-10 is fast approaching, and all who enter this new medical coding environment unprepared face dire financial consequences. While there are similarities between the old and new coding systems, the differences are substantial. Claims could be denied and payments delayed, which especially for smaller practices could be disastrous. The main expenses involved in transitioning to and operating under ICD-10 regulations can be summarized under the following three categories: ICD-10 compliant EHR, training requirements, and ICD-10 processing expenses.

ICD-10 Compliant EHR

While most medical practitioners have already invested in medical health records software that uses ICD-9, the fact is that all those EHRs will need to be updated or replaced once ICD-10 has been implemented. It is imperative for physicians to take advantage of such software, like WRS Health, in order to maintain order and efficiency under ICD-10.

The new codes will have seven, instead of five, alpha-numeric slots. There will be a greater degree of specificity in ICD-10, and medical terminology and disease classification systems will be fully modernized. While there are charts and online tools that can convert ICD-9 to ICD-10, these would be tedious and inconvenient to use as a permanent solution. Instead, time-saving auto-translation software, major coding updates to existing software, or an outright switch to totally ICD-10 compliant EHRs are the only reasonably efficient solutions.

Training Personnel for ICD-10

Not only must your EHR be updated for ICD-10, but the entire staff, including billers, must be trained to  understand the new coding requirements. To be sure that all personnel are prepared for ICD-10, the wise physician will invest time and effort into training their staff.

CMS has made huge efforts to inform and prepare physicians and others in the medical community for this coming reality. The added expense of transitioning to and continually using ICD-10 will be felt in the areas of new medical coding software, staff training exercises, and additional time and effort needed to process ICD-10 as compared to ICD-9. However, taking these steps is not optional for the physician who wants to keep his or her practice efficient and profitable. The costs of not updating software and learning to utilize the new coding system far outweigh the expenses of doing so.

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