HIMagine That! ICD-10: Bringing it home

September 18th, 2015 / By Sue Belley, RHIA, Donna Smith, RHIA

Donna: Sue, can you believe it? We’re going live with ICD-10 in less than two weeks – this has to be the longest pregnancy in history!

Sue: I know. You and I have been blogging about ICD-10 for what is it – three years now? What are we going to talk about after October 1st?

Donna: Plenty! But let’s not worry about that right now. I’m wondering what people are talking about in these last few weeks leading up to go-live.

Sue: Well, since you mentioned this long pregnancy, I think people are in the nesting phase right now. They’re talking about last-minute preparations like staffing, productivity, quality, physician readiness . . .

Donna: I’m hearing that managers are looking for ways to support their coding staff. We both know they’ve been through a lot these past few years – learning ICD-10, working on dual coding, and more. The coding staff knows that a lot is resting on their shoulders going into this. They need to code accurately and as productively as possible because their performance will have a tremendous impact on the revenue cycle, public reporting and the overall health of their facilities. They’re understandably a little nervous.

Sue: So, what are you hearing? How are managers supporting their staff in these last few weeks?

Donna: They’re publicly as well as privately recognizing and thanking their staff for all their hard work and dedication. They’re giving bonuses. They have offered EAP sessions on change management and stress management. I know managers are worried about coder burnout and fatigue after the transition.

Sue: Organizations really do need to be careful that they don’t overburden their staff.

Donna: They also need to make sure coding professionals have the official ICD-10 coding guidelines and all the ICD-10 reference materials possible at their fingertips. And I think it’s critical that they establish an ICD-10 hotline or an easily accessible support team that coders can reach to get ICD-10 coding questions addressed quickly. Also, they need to have accessible physician resources – surgeons for example – who can answer questions about surgical procedures that will come up when assigning PCS codes for those difficult or unusual surgical cases.

Sue: Oh, I really like the idea of having some surgeons available to assist when it comes to PCS code assignment – a physician advisor! I also think it would be a good idea to have a daily huddle/daily communication with staff because you know every organization will encounter new ICD-10 information that needs to be communicated on a timely basis.

Donna: I couldn’t agree more!

Sue: You know, this is really the moment when all the hard, tedious work everyone has undertaken for the past few years will pay off, and I know the coding profession will shine!

Donna: No question about it!

Sue: Okay – let’s get ready to bring this baby home!

Sue Belley, RHIA, and Donna Smith, RHIA, are project managers with the consulting services business of 3M Health Information Systems.


Change can be difficult, but with the right perspective it can bring great benefit. Click for perspectives on the benefits of ICD-10 from healthcare professionals.