I had plenty of advance notice to get this article done by my deadline.

But I had to catch up on calls I promised to make from the AAPC conference last week. Plus, I had all my normal day-to-day duties to attend to and also had to deal with some new issues (personnel, contract follow-ups, remote VPN problems, etc. etc.). Then there was spring cleaning for the house, aerating the lawn and handling family and kid stuff.

So I waited until the last minute to write this article. I wish I had more time. At first, the deadline seemed so far away. I wish I had not procrastinated. I wish I had started earlier. I shouldn’t have put it off, because now the deadline is here and I wanted to say and do so much more.

Procrastination is the space between intention and action. Again, I intended to start writing this early, but I just found too many other things to do that gave me an excuse to prevent that.

“I wish I had more time.” Well, guess what: we have more time. The proposed delay of the ICD-10 implementation date is the gift of time – and time is more valuable than money when you consider the constellation of actions that need to occur in order to navigate the ICD-10 transition successfully. I recently developed a training series on pre- and post-transition ICD-10 budget considerations. I listed all the usual suspects: the IT upgrade budget, training budget, process changes budget, etc. When I researched ICD-10 budgeting considerations, there existed lots of readily accessible information on hard costs, but not a lot of information on the cost in terms of time.

For example, someone in your organization has to spend time:

  • Coordinating your EHR problem/pick lists and template documentation needs with your EHR vendors (no small feat);
  • Determining whether your current hardware and software can handle both ICD-9 and ICD-10 code sets, both during the transition and for those non-HIPAA payers that may not be transitioning at all;
  • Talking to your payers about changes in payment policies, medical necessity linkages, new reporting requirements and the need to increase claims-related follow-up FTE’s to handle the anticipated increase in denied and pended claims;
  • Meeting with your referring or referred-to providers in order to communicate and develop new processes (ask: “What can you expect to get from us and what can we expect to get from you under ICD-10?”);
  • Performing the SWOT/GAP/IMPACT analyses, representing the first step in implementation planning; and
  • Ultimately “ramrodding” the entire ICD-10 implementation plan to ensure the switch can successfully be thrown, presumably on Oct. 1, 2014.

Whatever you do, don’t procrastinate. Despite the new date, start now by immediately adjusting or establishing your implementation timeline. Even CMS’s own David Sayen urged us to “stay the course” by continuing to prepare. Take the time to develop a thorough budget, and when considering your budget needs, don’t forget to budget the time needed to accomplish all the above tasks and the other myriad actions associated with this unprecedented challenge.

My April article stressed that ICD-10 can be a significant benefit to well-prepared providers by leveling the playing field with insurance companies. The ability to report valid acuity levels is a valuable arrow in your managed-care contract negotiation quiver. But in order to be well-prepared, you need to take the time to do things right.

ICD-10 is inevitable.

The delay is not an excuse to relax. It is meant for catching up. We have been given the gift of time.

Please don’t waste it.

About the Author

Denny is the president of Complete Practice Resources, a health care education, consulting, and software company headquartered in Slidell, Louisiana. He formerly served as the CEO of a large, multi-specialty physician group, full service MSO and was certified as a CPC through AAPC. He 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 making the complex “simple.” He currently serves on the editorial board of ICD10 Monitor.

Educated at the United States 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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