With a little more than 100 days until the ICD-10 implementation deadline goes into effect, the clock is ticking but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services insists it’s not too late for providers and others to get ready for the code switchover—even if they’ve done nothing so far to prepare for the new code set.

Though it might seem like a daunting task, CMS officials say there are strategies and resources to successfully transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 that can be put to use just in a nick of time.

“Certainly, there is still time to get ready,” said Denesecia Green, deputy director of the National Standards Group, during a June 18 Medicare Learning Network webinar. But, Green added, “it’s definitely time to transition now.”

Also See: It’s Crunch Time for ICD-10 Compliance

Green’s recommended path to ICD-10 compliance at this late date is a five-step action plan that includes: making a plan; training your staff, updating your processes; talking to your vendors and payers; and testing your systems and processes.

When it comes to making a plan, she said a good place to start is with your practice management system, which may “allow you to run a report of your high-volume codes or your top 25—start there.” As far as training for your staff, Green advised that documentation and coding training are essential for ICD-10. Updating your internal processes such as policies and is also key, she commented, as well as getting “everyone in your practice onboard.”

Talking to your vendors and payers is critical, according to Green, because “these are the entities that you work with all the time” and it’s important to get answers from them to the following questions: Do I have what I need? When will I get what I need? And, are we all on the same page moving forward for ICD-10?

The final step is testing your systems and processes. “This is where you’re working with your vendors to test your internal system, ensuring that things work properly, that they can answer your questions, and that if anything does happen that there’s some training or a call center available for them to answer your questions,” said Green, who added that “there are many payers out there that are offering testing as we speak.”             

As far as resources to help providers with the ICD-10 transition, Green pointed to the “Road to 10”—CMS’s online tool for small practices—whichincludes specialty references and helps providers build ICD-10 action plans tailored for their practice needs. In addition to fact sheets, videos, and Continuing Medical Education/Continuing Education credit opportunities, she said there are new interactive case studies that will “allow you and your staff to go in and do practice sessions before October 1.”

Green emphasized that ICD-9 claims with a date of service on or after October 1 will be rejected with “no opportunity for dual processing.” However, she said that “if you cannot submit ICD-10 claims electronically for whatever reason” come October 1, Medicare offers several options: free billing software that is downloadable on its website, Medicare Administrative Contractor provider Internet portals where claims can be submitted (about half of MACs offer that service; and paper claims can be submitted (if waiver provisions are met).

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