Marty McFly started out as a typical teen—carefree with little responsibility—but you know how the story goes: Marty didn’t realize that his actions in the past had the potential to completely erase his existence in the future. Can’t relate to the fictional but oh-so-loveable Marty McFly? With ICD-10 right around the corner, you might have more in common than you think—besides your shared love for Tom Petty or video games. No, I’m talking about something a little more serious: are your current coding behaviors preventing you from getting back to a successful future—post ICD-10? Jump into my DeLorean, and let’s find out:

The Past

It’s September, 1955—wait, 2015. You’ve practiced your coding, made a list of your most frequently used codes, and tested with all of your vendors. You’re well on your way to making a successful transition to ICD-10. But what happens if in your preparations, you come across an unlikely couple (of codes) and your future depends on making sure they fall in love—I mean, proving medical necessity. Are you prepared for a hiccup in productivity? Do you know what you need to do now, and in the future, to succeed? Even the most prepared providers are sure to face productivity losses following the transition date. As this AHIMA article explains: “Productivity loss, or an increased amount of time to code a patient encounter, due to the transition to ICD-10-CM/PCS is expected to reflect a bell curve, with the peak productivity loss surrounding the go-live date”

The Future

According to ICD-10 watch, productivity is going to be down across the board:

  • Because the codes are unfamiliar, medical coders will have to spend more time working with the codes.
  • They’ll also spend more time questioning providers, who also are unfamiliar with how to use the codes.
  • Payers will reject more claims as a result of claim errors.
  • Finally, payers also will take longer to issue payments because of internal processes.

Luckily, the future doesn’t have to look this bleak. As ICD-10 rolls out, there are ways that you can streamline your processes to prevent your productivity from disappearing.

The Hoverboard

You won’t need a fictional mode of transportation to get you to a successful post ICD-10 world. There are things you can do now, and during the transition, to ensure your life goes “back to normal” after October 1. Keep the following tips in mind, as adapted from this ICD-10 watch article:

  • Practice ICD-10 coding.
  • Schedule more coding training; invest the time and money now to help you ease into the future.
  • Hire coding help to keep medical claim processing moving.
  • Take advantage of your staff’s areas of expertise to maximize productivity.
  • Clean up your notes, and submit any outstanding claims.
  • Look at your systems to see if there are ways they can help boost productivity.

In addition to all of these things, you need to get an idea of your productivity demands now. Then, based on your current workload and workflow, you can more accurately estimate the amount of extra time you’ll need to allow yourself in order to achieve future success with the new code set. That way, the transition won’t be nearly as painful. Remember, you still need to avoid bumping into any of your old haunts (productivity traps) before the lightning strikes the tower. Otherwise, you could affect your future siblings—and your business.


Ideally, in a post-ICD-10-transition world, life in your practice will look a lot like it does now. So, grab your skateboard and avoid your parents—because we’ve gotta get back to the future.