Tips for doctors transitioning to ICD-10

Regardless of whether they operate as anesthesiologists, internal medicine specialists or cardiologists, U.S. medical professionals covered by HIPAA have until October 2013 to begin using ICD-10. To make the ICD-10 transition effectively, small practitioners may want to begin now, so they won't be rushing to implement the provisions near the deadline.

Many healthcare IT experts suggest that the first step in this process is to perform a comprehensive systems inventory. This means medical professionals and their employees should analyze their systems and make a detailed and accessible list including all the upgrades that will be needed.

Since the project will be multi-faceted, institutions making the transition should next determine if they have any personnel capable of becoming the manager of this task. This will help ensure that all aspects of the transition are on track to be made before the deadline.

"The key thing is identifying if you have the strong, disciplined project management expertise inside your doors, or not, because that's where you're going to need the help because ultimately this has a direct impact on reimbursement which makes all the difference in the world," says Neal Ganguly, chief information officer for CentraState.

Once this person is selected, he or she may still require new software – such as Lytec, Medisoft, Allscripts and Practice Choice – to help manage and track the process. This can help the project manager on the next steps, which are identifying the procedures and diagnoses common in an organization and creating the wording and codes for the ICD-10 program.

Using a trusted medical software firm can be crucial to this process, as those managing the transition don't need to be burdened with the added task of installing and mastering the new tools. When choosing a software provider, facilities making the ICD-10 transition should look for a company that can help make this part of the process easier.