The fall is fast approaching and with that brings the reminder that the new ICD-10 compliance deadline of October 1, 2015 is a little over a year away. Before the delay, healthcare organizations were working diligently on their transition plans and many were making progress on addressing key implementation challenges. And even though the delay initially was unwelcome for many, it provided more time to conduct end-to-end testing, address needed changes to systems, policies/procedures and workflows, and to mitigate potential revenue risks. It also meant organizations had time to re-evaluate their strategy, project timetable, and budgets to be in-line with the new compliance date.  

Although the new deadline may seem far off, a successful transition involves extensive changes which require considerable planning, time, and financial investment. Now is the time to evaluate and outline your 2015 ICD-10 budget needs to ensure funds have been thoughtfully allocated for a successful transition and to mitigate potential risks associated with dips in productivity and cash flow.

While organizations are at various stages of preparation for ICD-10, following are four key components to incorporate into a meaningful ICD-10 budget:  

IT Resources – ICD-10 budgets should factor in costs associated with IT system upgrades, remediation, and testing. Other considerations include computer assisted coding (CAC) and an ICD-10 financial impact analysis that helps to identify how improved documentation and coding will benefit your bottom line.

Consulting – Has your organization measured its readiness for ICD-10?  A readiness assessment and gap analysis is critical to a successful transition to ICD-10, and will identify organizational priorities as you embark on the development of a project plan. If you are just getting started with the transition, but lack experienced resources, costs associated with this need should be factored into your budget. For those organizations with a plan underway, dedicated and experienced project management  is required to coordinate the transition activity associated with departments across the enterprise including patient access, HIS, HIM, lab and revenue cycle.

Training – The delay allows more time to ensure providers and staff are up to speed and confident with ICD-10 in order to troubleshoot and remediate issues. Training is imperative in areas such as coding, documentation, and billing. Training costs should consider both internal training or the cost of backfilling staff during training, and external training costs associated with resources, applications, and content required to effectively deliver and measure competency and track completion.

Staffing – While training is important, considering a retention plan, particularly for coders, is critical to a successful transition to ICD-10. A timely and meaningful retention plan builds the foundation to help ensure you don’t lose staff after making significant investments in their training and development. Another key staffing consideration is forecasting the need and budgeting for billing resources necessary for a smooth and concurrent wind down of ICD-9 receivables and ramp up of receivables for ICD-10. Considering projected dips in revenue as high as 30% for the initial six to nine months post ICD-10 go-live, organizations can’t afford to overlook resource planning. Resources to facilitate system remediation and upgrades, and any other additional recruiting expenses should also be considered.  

In the end, organizations that will be the most successful are those that not only budget effectively, but also communicate a plan across the enterprise, dedicate the necessary resources, and build momentum now for ICD-10.

Craig S. Greenberg is practice director for strategic services at consulting firm Beacon Partners.

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