Now that the dust has settled from the ICD-10/SGR fix battles, you are probably wondering what it all means to you and what you should do now.


We advise, as many experts have, that you can relax—a little—but don’t stop your preparations for the ICD-10 start date. In a recent webinar presented by Deloitte, experts advised that when ICD-10 was delayed from 2013 to 2014, many organizations that stopped their preparations experienced significant difficulty regaining momentum.


So, take a breath—but keep moving forward.


In a CMS MLN Connects call on June 4, Pat Brooks, Senior Technical Advisor for CMS advised that the partial code freeze for both ICD-9 and ICD-10 will continue until one year after ICD-10 implementation, with only codes for new diagnoses and new technologies considered for addition until then. She advised that regular ICD-10 updates will begin on Oct. 1, 2016.


This is good news in terms of training; you can plan your training schedules without fear of changes to the code set.


Based on the current deadline we have, here are some steps we recommend you take to ensure your practice is ready by the Oct. 2015 ICD-10 deadline:


  1. Evaluate your original ICD-10 implementation plan or if you didn’t have one, make a plan now. If there were items you were not able to include in your original plan due to Meaningful Use time demands or other time constraints, now is the time to reevaluate those steps. If you didn’t have a plan, DO develop one now—it will help you avoid last minute panic a year from now.


  1. Refocus provider ICD-10 training on clinical documentation improvement instead of ICD-10 coding. Now is an excellent time to improve documentation, and this will keep providers engaged until it’s time to resume ICD-10 training.


  1. Implement dual coding so that your coders learn the code set as they are working. This will reduce coders’ stress because they will learn the codes more gradually and more effectively than simply studying the codes separately. Ideally your EMR software and medical billing software allow you to dual code with both code sets.


  1. Review your vendors’ ICD-10 readiness to make sure they will be ready on time. Check with your EHR software, medical billing software and claims clearinghouse to make sure they have a reliable plan to be ICD-10 ready. Ask if they participated in the CMS ICD-10 testing week in March and what their results were.


Best of all, of course, is if your medical software is already ICD-10 ready. iMAX Medical Billing and our EHR technology partner are ICD-10 ready and our software provides side-by-side buttons for ICD-9 and ICD-10 coding.


[lightbox link=”” thumb=”×84.png” width=”300″ align=”none” title=”ICD-9&10 Transition Tool” frame=”true” icon=”image”]


We are also pleased to say that we were among the approximately 2,600 participating providers, suppliers, billing companies and claims clearinghouses that participated in the March acknowledgement testing week. Our testing results scored between 98 percent and 99 percent, putting us in the upper tier of testers. We tested against all 15 Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) for professional and institutional claims.


iMAX Medical Billing and our EHR technology partner also planned to participate in the end-to-end testing originally scheduled for July 2014, but that testing has been rescheduled to 2015.


We are going to keep moving forward with ICD-10 and will be ready when the deadline finally comes; we hope that you will do the same.