ICD-10 transition will require less training, more planning for physicians

June 17, 2013

Oct. 14, 2014, is the compliance date for ICD-10. That looming deadline has many physicians anxious about the amount of training that will be required. In the Medical Economics webinar, “ICD-10 Expert Views on Preparation,” three panelists discussed some of the major implementation concerns for physicians and offered advice to help them get started.

 

Primary care physicians who fear that they will need to memorize 68,000 new medical codes beginning next year can momentarily set their minds at ease.

Oct. 14, 2014, is the compliance date for the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10). That looming deadline has many physicians anxious about the amount of training that will be required. In the Medical Economics webinar, “ICD-10 Expert Views on Preparation,” three panelists discussed some of the major implementation concerns for physicians and offered advice to help them get started.

Rhonda Buckholtz, AACP’s vice president of ICD-10 education and training, says physicians should have staff trained incrementally.

“Time the education with when they might be able to use some of the codes,” says Buckholtz. “We suggest that you do some rounds of readiness audits. Studies show it takes three times of hearing something for the human brain to actually absorb it. Talk to your vendors. Find out what their timelines are. We have to make sure that everybody works together in the industry, so we don’t fail when this comes out.”

But the training for physicians might not be as much as they think. Buckholtz says primary care physicians at a small to midsize practice may only require three to six hours of code training. That’s because physicians should think less about the numbers and more about the documentation content that ties into them.

 “If you break

down, there’s actually about 22 unique documentation concepts,” says Buckholtz. “For example, if you’re talking about a headache, there could be 80-some codes for a headache or migraine. But the documentation concepts break down to about six.”

“So when you teach [physicians] these documentation concepts, this makes it much more manageable for them and puts it in a way that’s much more meaningful,” says Buckholtz. “We’re not saying it’s not going to take that much time. But I can’t image a physician sitting in one of my 16-hour coding courses. They don’t need that same level of training.”

Coders, however, will require 20 to 40 hours of training, depending on their specialty and skill level. 

Rosemarie Nelson, principal consultant for MGMA Health Care Consulting Group, says for small practice physicians, who operate with solely a biller, it’s time to invest in staff. She suggests getting key staff members ICD-10 code-certified.

“Now people will think, ‘Gee, this is going to cost me more.’ But when the impact is on all of your financials, there may not be a better alternative,” Nelson says. “It would be foolhardy to think that we’re going to get physicians trained to understand all of these codes. We need to think about the solutions a little more differently.”

Nelson says that in addition to training, physicians should identify their three largest payers and discuss their transition plan. They should create case scenarios and test the reimbursement cycle with those payers, using the new codes. She also says physicians must discuss the transition with their EHR vendors well in advance.

Nelson says for now, don’t sweat the small stuff. Instead, focus on the big picture.

“A lot of people are focused on this code versus that code,” Nelson says. “How am I going to learn the codes? What books can I buy? … But remember that we have a lot of planning and testing set up that goes around this.”

Did you miss the webinar? Listen to it in the Modern Medicine archive.