Time running out for ICD-10 coding


If your practice hasn’t already started the ICD-10 medical coding conversion process, time is running out.

When the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) postponed the ICD-10 implementation deadline to Oct. 1, 2014, it may have given some practices a false sense that they have plenty of time to get the work done.

But it is important to “allow enough time for comprehensive testing in a live production environment,” notes NHIC, Corp. NHIC, a Medicare administrative contractor in New England, points to the lessons learned from the version 5010 implementation.


Under ICD-10, clinical documentation and billing will change substantially. However, the conversion also will affect nearly all areas of your practice. You will need to identify the systems and work processes that currently use ICD-9 codes and update them, from check-in to scheduling to referrals and more.

A multidisciplinary team can bring together functional areas from key areas of your practice, including senior management, coding, billing/finance, compliance, revenue cycle management, information systems and technology.

ICD-10 implementation will take time and money. Make sure you budget for both, including expenses for system changes, resource materials and training.

Last but not least, contact your practice management system vendor, clearinghouses, billing services and payers to ensure a smooth transition. CMS suggests that you discuss the following with your vendors:

  • What system upgrades/replacements will be needed
  • What costs are involved and whether upgrades will be covered by existing contracts
  • When upgrades or new systems will be available for testing and implementation
  • What customer support and training they will provide
  • How their products and services will accommodate both ICD-9 and ICD-10 as you work with claims for services provided both before and after the transition deadline for code sets

Help is available

CMS offers handbooks and templates to assist with the ICD-10 transition. The guides provide detailed information for planning and executing the transition. There is one for large practices and one for small and medium-sized practices. They are available online at

Additionally, the Health Information and Management Systems Society and the American Health Information Management Association partnered last year to issue in February 2012 a highly condensed project to help those that had not yet begun the transition toward the previous October 2013 deadline. “ICD-10 Critical Pathway for Getting Started” provides a chart and timeline for each phase of implementation.

The project outlines the purpose and the deadline, as well as the people, processes and technology impacted. It is a valuable tool that can be adapted to the current year. To download the chart, go to and scroll down to the link.

Stay informed with the latest ICD-10 news. You can sign up for “CMS ICD-10 Industry Email Updates” on the CMS website at