With the clock ticking down to the October 1 ICD-10 deadline, the American Hospital Association has released a checklist of key steps that hospitals should take to ensure a successful transition.

The complexity and challenges of the transition are daunting with ICD-10’s more than 68,000 diagnostic codes versus just 14,000 such codes for ICD-9. However, AHA’s ICD-10 “homestretch” checklist for hospital leaders covers three critical areas: checking internal systems, verifying external partner readiness, and considering financial protections.

Internally, AHA recommends that hospital leadership evaluate their staffing for the ICD-10 switchover and estimate whether coding productivity will drop and by how much. Based on those estimates, the association suggests that some hospitals may need additional staff in the short term to deal with that contingency.

Also See: ICD-10 Diagnoses Codes Seen Wreaking Havoc with Hospitals, EDs

AHA advises hospitals to establish communication plans with outside organizations, such as collecting emergency contact information for Medicare contractors and commercial insurers in case claims are delayed. In addition, hospitals should also know their major trading partners’ rules and process for submitting replacement claims if they identify a coding problem that needs to be corrected.

When it comes to financial protections, AHA recommends that hospitals familiarize themselves with the policies and processes of their trading partners regarding advance payments should they experience payment delays, as well as establish credit lines that can be used if processing delays adversely affect the normal revenue cycle. The association also notes that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has procedures for payment advances from Medicare in the event of financial difficulties due to a lag in Medicare billing and/or payments.

The AHA ICD-10 checklist can be found here.

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