Healthcare and the Switch to ICD-10: What Can Healthcare Organizations Do to Prepare?

May 2015

While the past several years have seen more than one significant change in our country’s healthcare system, the October 2015 switch from an ICD-9 coding system to the ICD-10 system is expected to have major impacts on everyday functions of healthcare organizations from small doctor’s offices to large hospital networks.

So what exactly are these codes? ICDs are medical classification lists developed by the World Health Organization; in long form they are known as International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. ICD-10 is the 10th revision of this list.

While the rest of the world has already converted to ICD-10 (with most developed countries making the switch over ten years ago), the U.S. healthcare industry is only now beginning to prepare for the impact this will have. What does this mean for healthcare organizations and how can they ensure that they will be geared up for the switch?

Addison Healthcare Branch Manager Ross Johnson maintains that there are several strategies that will important in preparing for this conversion. He shares three below:

1. Overstaff 

The switch to ICD-10 will be new for the entire industry, so no one will be able to predict what is going to happen. There could be issues with implementation, execution, and even systems much later down the road. The best strategy to prepare for the unexpected is to overstaff, and the healthcare organizations that do so will be best equipped.

2. Train Your People Early On

Though you will need to beef up your staff in preparation for the switch to ICD-10, it will help to have an existing staff who will be able to transition comfortably. Devoting time and resources to top notch training for your employees will result in a positive return on your investment.

3. Be Proactive

If you determine early on what your needs will be and have a well-trained existing staff, you will have the ability to find candidates who will be able to hit the ground running when the change takes place. It is going to be harder and harder to find talent when staffing for things like ICD-10, revenue cycle, and patient access, so finding good people that understand the process and don’t require training will help you get a leg up on your competition.

While the switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10 is will require massive amounts of preparation on the part of healthcare organizations, working with a staffing firm will help alleviate some of the burden. Staffing firms have the ability to source those difficult-to- find candidates with the experience required to jump right in and get to work immediately. Working with a firm with industry knowledge and access to strong candidate pools will allow for healthcare organizations to ensure their long-term goals are being met.