One thing I find fascinating about people is the buzz before a stormy weather forecast. Shoppers are frantically buying every gallon of milk, loaf of bread and every egg on the shelf. The preparation for something that might happen, and delay our lives for maybe a day or two is interesting and intriguing. This brings me to my question. Why are so many healthcare professionals not preparing for the certain storm of ICD-10? There is no doubt the storm is coming and yet, I have heard from so many physicians that their coders will be ready, but they still do not understand the changes required for their documentation.
This leads me to a new fork in the road of thought. One path is the experience Canada had during their transition. Canada’s transition was in 2002. One cannot really say this is a perfect case study because Canada healthcare system is quite different than the United States, but there are lessons to be learned from their experience. If we know that Canada experienced a significant reduction in productivity of their coders, why is it that our healthcare system has not trained a significant number of new coders to support the new mandate? The AHIMA study in 2003 showed Canadian coders had an initial 50% decrease in productivity and there was a three to six month post implementation period before there was any noticeable improvement in productivity and nearly a year before the coders reached the same productivity of ICD-9. And, may I remind you, Canada has only ICD-10 CM and no PCS codes, and the Canadian version of ICD-10 CM has 40,000 codes in comparison to the 68,000 in ICD-10 CM. Notice there was no mention of the PCS codes? Coders have always been in short supply because of the quandary of inexperienced coders do not get hired, but one cannot get experience if they are unemployed. Expect to see a huge demand for coders in the beginning of January, 2016. Healthcare practices should be well prepared for this, and they should be hiring additional staff, but are they?
The other fork is the demand for immediate training after the initial go live date. My expectation is that those physicians or clinicians who did not complete training will recognize they are in trouble. Once their bills are unpaid, or the revenue cycle is interrupted and the receivables begin to accumulate, they will understand what we have been saying for years.
That’s when online education will be priceless. The DNFB’s will be piled up, the physicians receivables as well, and we will see the physicians, clinicians and healthcare professionals catching up on the documentation requirements for ICD-10….and eLearning with online courses will be there to help.