My company is dedicated to all things ICD-10 all the time, so it’s important for us to stay abreast of what’s happening around the country, and we do that by occasionally polling health care organizations.

For last month’s survey, we focused on small-to-medium-sized practices and asked two simple questions: “What do you know about ICD-10?” And, ”Given the government finalized the implementation date, what are you doing about it?”

The results were a little shocking. Fifty percent of those polled admitted they didn’t know very much about ICD-10. Forty-five percent said it was too far away to worry about. Four percent said they already had it handled because they have an EMR, and one respondent said, “No worries. We have coders on staff.” NOT ONE PERSON SURVEYED answered that they were actively working on the ICD-10 implementation.

People, let me tell you what this feels like to me. I’m watching a reeaaallllyyyy slllooowww train wreck where you know the train is stuck on a track heading for disaster, with the time and place the train is going to crash already pre-determined. The time is October 1, 2014, and the place is your office, if you don’t start taking this challenge seriously.

Your EMR isn’t going to train your doctors to provide the written foundation that drives your codes. Your EMR isn’t going to train your staff about the changes to order entry or pre-authorization. Your EMR isn’t going to give you a heads-up on the loss of productivity and revenue ANY new process causes.

Likewise for your coders. Your coders aren’t going to handle the new payment policies certain to be issued by your insurance payers. Your coders aren’t going to work with your referring or referred-to providers to make sure you’re all on the same page when it comes to providing new information.

This is not rocket science. Yeah, there are a lot of moving parts and a lot to accomplish, but you can do this. We’ve been talking about a sane, measured, and phased approach to ICD-10 for six months. CMS issued a bulletin a few weeks ago suggesting the same phased approach.

The prerequisite first phase is getting your doctors and staff engaged, aware, and educated. Start by simply talking about ICD-10. “Hey Doc, do you realize we treat a lot of asthma and with ICD-10, you are now going to be required to document whether it’s mild, moderate, severe, intermittent, persistent, and tobacco use?” “Hey staff, do you realize you’re going to have to change the way you pre-authorize and enter orders under ICD-10?” “Hey everyone, don’t worry, we have time to do this right and we’ll train in a timely, organized fashion.”

That’s the first phase. It’s easy. Once you complete the first phase, then you can move on to organizing your team, performing your impact assessment, which is easy and which will also be the focus of my next Talk Ten Tuesday segment. Once you identify your action item objectives with your impact assessment, you create your plan and budget, implement your plan, and then try and anticipate the post-transition implications. Easy. Because you have time.

Let’s be honest. If you are listening to this weekly broadcast, you already get it. So YOU need to be evangelical about ICD-10 and start gently educating those of your peers that don’t get it. Talk it up at your get-togethers. Make sure your professional organizations are providing ICD-10 topics. This is going to take a village, and you need to be the chief “word spreader.” Kind of like Amway for ICD-10, or Mary Kay Cosmetics. Spread the word. What’s in it for you? Raise your hand if you’ve heard of Carl Spackler. Ok. I can’t see your hands, but Carl Spackler was the greens keeper character played by Bill Murray in Caddyshack. Here’s what you will receive if you spread the ICD-10 gospel, according to Carl Spackler in Caddyshack:

“So, I tell them I’m a pro caddy, a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald… striking. Big hitter, the lama. So we finish the eighteenth and he’s gonna stiff me. And I say, ‘Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know.’ And he says, ‘Oh, uh, there won’t be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness, Gunga galunga.’”

So if you spread the word about ICD-10, you got that goin’ for you… which is nice.

Next segment? Phase 2’s Organizing an Impact Assessment

About the Author

Denny is the president of Complete Practice Resources, a healthcare education, consulting and software company headquartered in Slidell, La. He formerly served as CEO of a large, multi-specialty physician group and full-service MSO. Denny has authored or co-authored numerous “common-sense” practice management books and implementation manuals. He is an award-winning, nationally known consultant, speaker and educator, bringing his expertise to bear on making the complex, simple. He currently serves on the editorial board of ICD10monitor.

Educated at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Denny had a distinguished career as an Air Force pilot and has a long history of commitment to excellence and dedication to his clients’ success.

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