Core components of an ICD-10 communication and awareness plan

A critical step in preparing for the transition to ICD-10 is to build organizational awareness and to develop a communications plan. Such a plan ensures that all your employees, as well as external business partners, understand their roles and responsibilities for ICD-10 implementation.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), you should think of the plan as a formal roadmap for communicating about ICD-10 throughout the transition. Just as in larger organizations, small practices need to make sure that everyone know what, why and how the transition will happen.

CMS recommends that your communication plan should identify the following:

  • Project purpose -- Provide ICD-10 background information and clearly describe the current state of ICD-10 progress in your organization, identify goals for the communication and awareness plan, and explain the purpose and expected outcomes of the transition. 
  • Partners – Identify all parties involved in your ICD-10 transition. For internal staff, you will need to establish a process to communicate governance issues to leaders and assess staff training needs. Coordinate with external groups such as vendors, clearinghouses, and state agencies about implementation updates and changes required in your systems and business processes.
  • Messages – Be clear and consistent about what you say, focusing on specific steps and actions that need to happen for the ICD-10 transition.
  • Issues – Outline your organization's protocol for identifying potential implementation issues and provide a plan for correcting them. 
  • Roles and responsibilities – Assign and clearly define communication roles and responsibilities to everyone involved in the transition. 
  • Timelines – Identify project milestones, secondary tasks and deadlines. Be certain all project teams know what they will need to do. Develop back-up plans for each milestone to help you handle potential problems.
  • Communication methods – Think about how to best communicate within your organization. Emails, in-person meetings and conference calls may all be effective, but some might work better for different staff and divisions.

CMS notes that the size of your organization will determine how much planning and documentation will be necessary for the ICD-10 transition. Nonetheless, it's always important to keep the lines of communication open. An effective communication plan will help foster trust among staff members and demonstrate that your practices is taking steps to implement ICD-10.

For further information on the transition, visit CMS's ICD-10 website.

Photo attributed to DIREKTOR via Creative Commons license.