EDITOR’S NOTE: This is final installment of a two-part series featuring a recent Talk Ten Tuesday radio interview with Denesecia Green from CMS.

During her recent interview on Talk Ten Tuesday, Denesecia Green said CMS is working with National Government Services (NGS) and industry stakeholders to establish end-to-end testing definitions, processes, and protocols that will be shared with all industry and federal and state partners. “NGS is using ICD-10 as a business case in establishing end-to-end testing parameters and processes that can be used again for other programs. It is working with several stakeholder organizations to join us in ICD-10 pilot testing. And CMS and NGS are scheduling listening sessions about testing that are open to all.” She added that details will be posted on the CMS ICD-10 website as they become available.

Meanwhile, Green continued, CMS is strongly encouraging everyone to be prepared for ICD-10 testing with your business trading partners by October 2013, at the latest. “That means now is the time to get your ICD-10 software and systems in place so you can complete testing within your organization before October 1. Now is also the time to talk with your business trading partners about ICD-10 readiness and testing plans.”

Buck asked Green what CMS is doing to prepare industry for ICD-10, beyond testing. She referred users to CMS’ website, where they can find ICD-10 training and shared resources like timelines, webinars, and fact sheets. CMS also offers a popular weekly ICD-10 Email Update message with practical tips for making the ICD-10 transition. website cms.gov/ICD-10.

Green added that the website also offers free online CME courses, open to everyone. If you’re not a medical professional, you can earn a certificate of completion for the brief courses, which include separate tracks for small and large medical practices.

“And finally, we are working with trade and professional associations and other partners throughout the country to keep everyone informed about how to make a smooth transition to ICD-10,” Green said. “While the transition to ICD-10 will present some challenges, taken step-by-step it is ultimately very doable. CMS is here to work in partnership with industry and government agencies to guide everyone who is affected by ICD-10 through the process.”

Here are a few things CMS is advising users to do right away:

  1. Develop a project plan and team with specific roles and responsibilities. Figure out what you are going to do and generally how you are going to do it, as you would for any project.
  2. Communicate with your colleagues and business trading partners about ICD-10. Find out what their testing and implementation plans are.
  3. Assess how ICD-10 will impact your organization. Sit down and really try to work out more of the details, such as where ICD-9 is currently used and where ICD-10 will be used, and what changes in your practice will need to be made.

For example, the CME course for small practices walks through the assessment process, which is easier than it might sound. To assess ICD-10’s affects on a clinical practice, you would need to consider two questions:

  1. How do you use ICD-9 today? In other words, where in your practice do you actually see an ICD-9 code?
  2. How will you use ICD-10 tomorrow? Wherever you see ICD-9 today, you will see ICD-10 tomorrow. That’s the starting point. So, if you only use ICD-9 in the back office where the coder looks at your written diagnosis and enters that onto the claim, that is your starting point for transition to ICD-10. The focus of your transition plan would be, “How do I help my coder go from looking up an ICD-9 code that matches my clinical documentation to looking up a more granular ICD-10 code?”

“The transition to ICD-10 is going to take planning, but it’s doable,” concluded Green. “Please visit our official ICD-10 website at cms.gov/ICD10, sign up for our Email Updates and keep up on official news from CMS.”

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Stephanie Thompson is a correspondent for ICD10monitor.

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