Published 7/1/2013

Don’t Be Late for a Very Important Date

The transition to coding with the International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition—otherwise known as ICD-10—begins on Oct. 1, 2014, less than 15 months away. Unfortunately, a recent AAOS survey of orthopaedic practices found that just 1.5 percent of respondents have trained all relevant staff and are preparing for ICD-10, while 37.5 percent of respondents indicated that some staff have received some training and are preparing for ICD-10.

That means that 6 out of 10 orthopaedists haven’t even begun training staff or preparing for the transition. These surgeons are jeopardizing their practices and their incomes by waiting. Beginning October 2014, if orthopaedic surgeons can’t report cases using the ICD-10 codes, they won’t get paid and may have to take out loans to make payments for goods and services that support their practices and to meet payroll.

Where to begin?
Orthopaedic practices rely on their information technology (IT) systems, including their electronic health records (EHR) system, their practice management system, their picture archiving and communications systems, their claims clearinghouse, and other software, such as the Code-X coding system. Now is the time to assess the impact the ICD-10 transition will have on every IT system that helps practices run efficiently. Otherwise, unanticipated issues and difficulties may delay the transition to ICD-10.

Start by contacting every vendor to request information on software upgrades and updates that support the transition to ICD-10. Ask every vendor the following questions:

  1. Which version of the software update will you install?
  2. Can you provide testing reports to show that the software has been thoroughly beta-tested?
  3. Have you installed the same software update in any other orthopaedic practices?
  4. When will you install the update?
  5. Will you provide any necessary training for staff? If so, when and how much?
  6. What needs to be done after the software is installed? For example, will practice-specific information, including EHR templates, need to be loaded? Who is responsible for doing these steps?

Orthopaedic practices should also be communicating with clearinghouses and payers on their ICD-10 readiness, especially if the practice is currently negotiating any new patients’ coverage and payment agreements. Practices with integrated systems will need to make sure the connected components are capable of working together.

Start now
Most experts recommend that medical practices begin testing ICD-10 support systems at least 1 year prior to the October 1, 2014, implementation date. Early testing means that bugs and other problems can be identified and fixed before the deadline date.

Help from AAOS
To help AAOS members make the transition to ICD-10, the Academy is offering a series of three webinars designed for orthopaedic surgeons and their practice staff.

“Navigate Through a Successful Transition to ICD-10” includes the following programs:

  • Making Sure You Get Paid on October 1, 2014—ICD-10 Readiness on July 18
  • Master ICD-10 Coding for Orthopaedic Coders on Oct. 10
  • Clinical Documentation Strategies for Orthopaedic Surgeons on Nov. 21

For more information, visit www.aaos.org/icd10 or call AAOS customer service at 1-800-626-6726