How in the world is it already August? This year is flying by, and we’ve only got eight weeks left to prep for the mandatory ICD-10 switch on October 1. If your preparations are right on schedule—or if you’re already prepared—give yourself a pat on the back (and maybe one of these). But if not, then it’s time to put on your game face and get to it. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have granted providers a limited one-year grace period, but it’s not the get-out-of-ICD-10-free card some folks think it is, so you still need to knuckle down and get ready for the switch.
Concerned about transition costs? That’s understandable—but putting off your preparations will only wind up costing you and your practice big time (and I’m not just talking money). Plus, the transition to ICD-10 doesn’t have to break the bank. We put together the following tips and tricks to help you prepare for the switch to ICD-10 without dipping into your savings.
- Take advantage of free educational tools, like ICD-10 for PT and the WebPT Blog. We’ve got all the articles, webinars, handouts, checklists, quizzes, and games you need to get ready—and they won’t cost you a penny.
- Determine your practice’s most commonly used diagnosis codes—and their most specific ICD-10 equivalents. This way, your staff can spend more time billing and less time searching for codes.
- Test externally. Not only is it free, but it also verifies that all of your software and outsourced services are ready to receive, process, and remit for ICD-10 codes. That way, if they aren’t ready, you have time to consider working with new vendors. While that might not sound like a way to cut costs, in the long run, unprepared vendors will cost you much more.
- Test internally. Like external testing, internal testing is free. It does cost you in time, but ensuring your team can efficiently and appropriately assign ICD-10 codes will save you mucho moolah later.
- Clear out your current reimbursement backlog and collections accounts. Not only does this help clean up your billing process, but it also beefs up your cash reserves.
- Consider securing a line of credit with your bank to cover unexpected costs and dips in cash flow. If possible, try to have three- to six-months' worth of cash on hand in case you experience any delays in payment after the switch.
- Assess and correct your current billing workflow. Determining how quickly and cleanly your practice currently processes and receives payment for claims using ICD-9 codes will allow you to fix any workflow issues. Your claims will be cleaner, and you’ll get paid faster. Plus, you’ll have a sense of how ICD-10 affects your cash flow after the transition so you can better prepare your bank account.
- Create a retention plan. If any of your staff are already trained on ICD-10, they’re a hot commodity. Keeping these employees—and their knowledge—at your practice gives you a leg-up on your competition and could help minimize ICD-10’s impact on your bottom line. Plus, you won’t have to spend money—and your valuable time—looking for, hiring, and training replacements.
The grace period likely will save you some delayed payments and claim denials due to ICD-10 coding errors, but it’s up to you to cut prep costs, build a healthy bank account, and preserve your revenue during the transition (we know you've got this). With these tips, you’re a few steps closer to ensuring everyone at your clinic is ready for ICD-10—without sacrificing all your hard-earned dollars.