Do you remember the children’s story called “Tomorrow” from “Days with Frog and Toad” by Arnold Lobel? It’s a story about procrastination and it goes like this:
Toad woke up. “Drat!” he said. “This house is a mess. I have so much work to do”
Frog looked through the window. “Toad, you are right,” said Frog, “It is a mess.”
Toad pulled the covers over his head. “I will do it tomorrow,” said Toad. “Today I will take life easy.”
Frog came into the house. “Toad,” said Frog, “your pants and jacket are lying on the floor.” “Tomorrow,” said Toad from under the covers. “Your kitchen sink is filled with dirty dishes,” said Frog. “Tomorrow,” said Toad. “There is dust on your chairs.” “Tomorrow,” said Toad. “Your windows need scrubbing,” said Frog. “Your plants need watering.” “Tomorrow!” cried Toad. “I will do it all tomorrow!”
Toad sat on the edge of his bed. “Blah,” said Toad. “I feel down in the dumps.”
“Why?” asked Frog. “I am thinking about tomorrow,” said Toad. “I am thinking about all of the many things that I will have to do.”
“Yes,” said Frog, “tomorrow will be a very hard day for you.” “But Frog,” said Toad, “if I pick up my pants and jacket right now, then I will not have to pick them up tomorrow, will I?”
“No,” said Frog “You will not have to.” Toad picked up his clothes. He put them in the closet.
“Frog,” said Toad, “if I wash my dishes right now, then I will not have to wash them tomorrow, will I?” “No,” said Frog. “You will not have to.” Toad washed and dried his dishes. He put them in the cupboard.
“Frog, if I dust my chairs and scrub my windows and water my plants right now, then I will not have to do it tomorrow, will I?”
“No,” said Frog. “You will not have to do any of it.” Toad dusted his chairs. He scrubbed his windows. He watered his plants. “There,” said Toad, “Now I feel better. I am not in the dumps anymore.”
“Why?” asked Frog. “Because I have done all that work,” said Toad. “Now I can save tomorrow for something that I really want to do.” “What is that?” asked Frog. “Tomorrow,” said Toad, “I can just take life easy.” Toad went back to bed. He pulled the covers over his head and fell asleep.
For those who have been procrastinating and have not started the transition into ICD-10, it’s time to take a lesson from the Frog and Toad. Let’s be fair and honest, there are no health care providers who are taking it easy tomorrow. In truth, if you want to stay in bed and pull the covers over your head, medicine is not the right field for you. You know, you can’t just wait until tomorrow to get today’s work done, and that includes your training on the clinical documentation requirements for your specialty.
We get it, there are codes that are silly. The water skier whose skis are on fire, or the student who poked themselves in the eye with a fork in a dining room of a boarding school. Obviously, if you never had a self- impaling -fork-wielding-boarding-school-student, you won’t likely have one after October 1, 205. But try and keep focus on what is really important for you in your practice and in your career.
Change can be best managed with education. We’ve heard that ICD-10 is going to break the bank of the solo practitioners or the small partnership practices. However, if you’re making smart business decisions, you can mitigate some of these risks by educating yourself. Starting with your documentation to make sure your coders can arrive at the correct code, and then with your vendors. Vendors should already have an implementation plan in place and many have started end-to-end testing by now. Make sure they’re ready for the transition, so you can test how your claims and your documentation will survive the new rules and regulations. Make mistakes before they impact your revenue cycle, that will be the safest way to make sure you are in compliance with the new guidelines and that your documentation is robust enough for the new code set!
Your coders are going to transition too, Clearinghouses, billing companies, EHR vendors, the list goes on and on. By now, you should have a pretty sound list of all of your vendors and their implementation schedules so your practice can work with them. Just remember, it’s the quality of your documentation that starts the process, start by using the mantra “think with ink” and make sure you are aware of the documentation requirements of your specialty.
You still have a little time, but we are five-months away from the implementation date. Don’t get yourself stuck under the covers. As we all know, tomorrow there will be new initiatives to navigate for your practice, but for now, you’re running out of time. Start your training, and get a reliable computer app to support your documentation – it’s time to get moving!