Physicians, managers, coders should prepare for ICD-10 now

The go-live date for ICD-10 may be pushed back further, to October 2014. Even so, one expert says you should start making the change sooner rather than later.

Q: ICD-10 is coming. When do I need to start preparing for the change in coding?

A: Although the kick-off for this large-scale change in coding to the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) was planned for October 1, 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently announced that it has pushed back the deadline. Regardless, this issue is one that should not be taken lightly by any medical practice. CMS maintains that once it settles on a go-live deadline, ICD-9 codes will not be accepted.

With this in mind, we strongly recommend physicians, office managers, coders, and IT support staff begin preparing for ICD-10 immediately. Approach the project as you might a clinical situation: perform an assessment, plan, and get started right away.

Assess your own documentation by obtaining a gap analysis of current documentation versus the documentation requirements of ICD-10. This analysis should be performed by a certified coder, using a combination of chart reviews and determination of overall use of "non-specific" diagnostic codes assigned by the physician.

Finally, assess your practice software. It is important to ensure your practice management/electronic health record software vendor has made all the necessary upgrades to support ICD-10 by January 1, 2013.

Answers to readers' questions were provided by Thomas J. Ferkovic, RPh, MS, managing director, and Daniel E. Clark, MBA, senior consultant, SS&G Healthcare Services LLC in Akron, Ohio. Send your practice management questions to Also engage at and

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