Will ICD-10 affect your EHR strategy?

 Completing EHR Rollout Before Tackling ICD-10

Ron Sterling
Sterling Solutions
Author: Keys to EMR/EHR Success

On October 1, 2013, practices will start submitting claims using the ICD-10 coding system.  Any practice planning on using EHR systems to facilitate the transition to ICD-10 needs to take a close look at the practicality of implementing an EHR in time to support ICD-10 coding.

The move to ICD-10 will be dramatic and challenging.  The ICD-10 coding system uses a level of specificity beyond the ICD-9 system and requires more details that match up with the CPT code.  For example, ICD-10 codes may include site and severity information which will have to be consistent with your procedure codes and modifiers.
In order to use an EHR to support your ICD-10 coding challenge, you cannot expect to address ICD-10 coding in the middle of your EHR effort.  Indeed, you will want to have completed the rollout of the EHR before you tackle the ICD-10 challenge.  Consider the following calendar issues as you plan ahead to meet ICD-10 coding with the help of an EHR:
  • Selection of PMS and EHR products can take 2 to 4 months or more before you have finalized your decision.
  • Implementation of an EHR can take 4 to 6 months depending on a variety of policy, and practice issues.
  • Once the EHR implementation is complete, your practice will need 4 to 8 months to transition individual patients to the EHR.
  • If you will be replacing your PMS system as part of your EHR project, allow an additional 4 to 6 months for your project.
A full PMS/EHR project can take anywhere from 10 to 18 months or more.  Considering that you should be ready to focus on ICD-10 by the beginning of the summer of 2013, it is not too early to tackle the EHR project on your critical path to ICD-10 compliance.
Note that differences between ICD-9 and ICD-10 coding systems will probably lead to changes to the EHR and PMS systems that you use leading up to the ICD-10 start date.
Depending on the size of your practice, you need to be well along on your transition to an EHR before you focus on the transition to ICD-10.  Otherwise, you could be facing overwhelming uncertainties in your clinical and billing operations that could lead to disruptions in patient service, clinical operations and cash flow.
This article was originally published on Avoid EHR Disasters and is used here with permission. Ron Sterling authored the HIMSS Book of the Year Award winning Keys to EMR/EHR Success. He is a nationally recognized EHR expert with the information that you need to improve patient service and performance. He can be contacted at rbsterling@sterling-solutions.com.