5 ICD-10 challenges that may surprise healthcare providers

Since ICD-10 implementation affects almost every department in a medical practice or hospital, it's fair to say that it's more than a medical coding problem. There are plenty of challenges to tackle across the organization.

In addition to learning new medical codes and buying new technology, healthcare organizations will challenges in the following areas.

Project planning
ICD-10 implementation is going to require coordination of a lot of moving parts and oversight in order to:

  • Schedule meetings
  • Create teams
  • Recruit champions
  • Plan education and training sessions
  • Create impact assessments
  • Communicate with vendors and consultants
  • Perhaps hire said consultants

[See also: ICD-10 Transition: It's time to hone your project management skills]

Financial planning
Perhaps ICD-10 opponents are a bit too fixated on estimated costs of making systems and equipment ICD-10-compatible. I'm not saying it's going to be cheap. But there's more to it:

  • Revenue -- Reimbursements can be affected by DRG shifts.
  • Cash flow -- The accounts receivable cycle can increase due to healthcare payer delays and a decrease in medical coding productivity.
  • Operational cost -- Are you going to hire more staff to cope with decreased productivity?

[See also: ICD-10 Risks: Assessing how much migration will hurt]

The drop in Canadian medical coder productivity is almost legendary -- 40 percent. It's the boogey man of ICD-10 implementation. But there is hope that healthcare organizations can boost productivity now by:

  • Using computer assisted coding (CAC)
  • Implementing electronic health records (EHRs)
  • Hiring and training staff
  • Enhancing the workplace

[See also: How to boost medical coding productivity]

There are so many constituencies who need to be informed about the ICD-10 transition. And you need to gather information from various groups:

  • Ensure the executive level knows how the ICD-10 transition is working.
  • Coordinate with healthcare payers, vendors and consultants.
  • Collaborate with other project teams.
  • Keep affected staff members informed about changes.

[See also: CMS has advice on sharing ICD-10 transition information]

There aren't a lot of healthcare professionals who are thrilled to be tackling ICD-10 implementation:

  • Physicians have reservations about documentation requirements.
  • Some medical coders don't want to learn new diagnosis and procedure codes.
  • IT staff are juggling other system upgrades.

[See also: ICD-10 Transition: How to engage, not scare, physicians]

All these challenges don't mean that ICD-10 implementation needs to be scrapped. These are all hurdles that can be overcome with planning and effort. However, you need to start with awareness to be successful.