By the end of September, it’ll officially be fall. That means that in most cities across the US, you can enjoy the fuzzy comfort of wearing sweaters (at least in places other than Arizona, because it’s hot until, well, always). Whatever the weather, it’s not going to stop me from anticipating Christmas (as you could probably guess by my title). But there’s more to the end of September than pumpkin spice lattes and holly-jolly anticipation of the winter holidays. I’m talking about the transition to ICD-10. So, in the spirit of Christmas, here’s an ICD-10 poem:


‘Twas the night before ICD-10, when all through the house,
Not a PT was stirring, not even a mouse.
The claims were sent out; scrubbed by billing software with care,
In hopes that medical necessity, they soon would declare.
The therapists were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of seventh characters danced in their heads.


All poetic ramblings aside, the evening of September 30 shouldn’t cause panic. Here’s what you need to do:

Clean Up and Finalize

By September 30, you should have a good idea of what active patients will have claims with dates of service spanning the transition. Review those patients’ cases and find the proper ICD-10 code; then, make note of it in their charts so you can easily access and add the appropriate codes on October 1. Does this mean you need to do a mass update of all of your patients? No. Simply update patient diagnosis codes as those patients come in for their appointments. Additionally, as this WebPT blog post suggests: “Finalize all notes for dates of service on or before this day (September 30) before the clock strikes midnight. The date of service on a claim dictates the type of diagnosis code it should contain (i.e., ICD-9 or ICD-10), and if you attempt to finalize notes containing ICD-9 codes after ICD-10 goes into effect, things could get messy. So, save yourself the headaches and get all caught up prior to October 1.”

Catch some Zzzs

Closing up shop and working until the wee hours of the morning on October 1 isn’t going to help you tackle the transition head-on come dawn. It’s important to face this change with a clear mind and a positive attitude; otherwise, your business—and your patients—could suffer. In reality, things aren’t as bad as you might think. As this HIMSS article explains: “When ZirMed conducted end-to-end testing with multiple payers on behalf of a wide range of provider organizations recently, the results—in terms of how successfully providers and payers were able to submit and process ICD-10-coded claims—were encouraging.” It’s probably not going to be horrible; you just need to relax and prepare your mind for what’s ahead, and that requires rest.

Cheer up

Finally, keep your chin up, champ. Seriously, attitude is everything when it comes to tackling tough changes—like the one from ICD-9 to ICD-10. The more you resist this transition, the more difficult it will be to take on. The reality is that the transition is happening. And it’s something we all must deal with, whether we want to or not. As ICD-10Monitor urges us: “Remember, we are all in this together.”


So, spring to your practice, to your team give a whistle;  
Fly through this transition like the down of a thistle.
Hear me exclaim, ere I write out of sight—
“Happy ICD-10 to all, and to all a good night!”