How ICD-10 Changes Could Affect The Workflow Of Your Practice

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As a clinic owner, you know the upgrade from ICD-9 to ICD-10 is coming, and it’s important for improved practice management to get your clinic ready for the change.

Even though the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems’ (ICD) 10th revision to the World Health Organization’s medical classification adoption deadline was pushed back until October 1, 2015, you should begin preparing your employees and therapy providers so they are ready and confident.

As the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) pointed out, ICD-9 is 30 years old and many of the terms are outdated and inconsistent with current medical practices. ICD-10 will allow for more detailed coding and tracking of new diagnoses.

Since occupational, physical and speech therapists and front office staff members have been using ICD-9 codes for so long, the upgrade may take some time to get used to. This may affect the workflow of your practice as employees adjust to the new system.

Here are some ways that ICD-10 could affect your practice’s workflow:

ICD-10 will feature more codes than ICD-9, which helps ensure that medical conditions and diagnoses are being reported in greater detail, but this may take employees more time to input the information. Initially, inputting codes could slow down efficiency, as staff members may need to take more time to make sure they are inputting the correct codes. Once they are comfortable, the process could still be a bit more involved than it was before because of the added codes, so it’s important to take into account how this change will affect workflow.

The Utah Health Information Network noted that test groups showed that productivity will decrease 50 percent for about four to six months after the implementation of ICD-10. This may mean that you will need to hire extra help to pick up the work backlog, and you’ll want to ensure that all current and new employees are clear on their tasks.

On the payor end, you may see more denials and overpayments while everyone learns to input the correct code. There’s a good chance errors will happen as people get used to the system, which may leave payors feeling overwhelmed while your clinic works out the kinks. Because there’s likely to be additional issues, it will take extra time to correct errors, which will slow down the process of billing and paying as well.

The implementation of ICD-10 will require your clinic staff to communicate differently, which may affect their overall workflow. It may be helpful to double check codes and data before information is submitted, so all employees should be in constant contact with one another to make sure that everything is being filed correctly.

Understanding how the ICD-10 upgrade will affect the flow of work allows you to plan ahead for these changes and make the necessary additions and updates before the adoption date. This will ensure that you and your employees are prepared and the implementation won’t slow down your practice. You can also review current workflows to find out where things are working and where they are not, so you can begin to make changes ahead of time.


This article is brought to you by PREFERRED Therapy Providers Inc. PREFERRED is the nation’s leading payor management services network. Our expertise is working with physical, occupational and speech therapy practices – from single clinics to multiple clinic locations.