Before we start this discussion, remember ICD-10 is only mandated for HIPAA-covered entities; worker’s compensation payers are not required to adopt ICD-10. When your practice or facility submits a worker’s comp claim it’ll be ICD-9 from here to eternity… or until they change their mind.

But seriously, that’s just one of several logical reasons to have a solid dual coding program in place.

Dual Coding versus Double Coding  Dual coding is adding both ICD-10 and ICD-9 codes simultaneously to the record. Double coding is coding the record twice for two different classifications. Or natively coding the record for ICD-10 after it has already been coded for ICD-9. If double coding sounds like more work, you’re firing on all cylinders.

So… dual coding it is then.

A simple but solid dual coding program can help everyone. Practice managers and facility executives get a better picture of the financial impact of ICD-10. Workflows get redesigned. Physician documentation improvement becomes a culture. And the sooner you engage your EHR and practice management software vendor as more of a partner, instead of a “vendor,” the sooner you can credibly ask them for more support, solutions, answers and service than you first thought.

Education and Training  The more you keep your ICD-10 training in-house, the less you’ll spend on external education costs. Nonetheless, there are loads ICD-10 prep and training courses – at all price points – available from reputable sources including the American Association of Professional Coders (AAPC), the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Don’t skimp on training. With proper training the productivity of your medical billing and coding staff won’t suffer as much once October 1, 2015 rolls around. Your staff will appreciate a solid dual coding program when accompanied by appropriate training. It will boost their confidence and job satisfaction, which can be important after go-live of new systems and processes. For added effectiveness and targeted use of training resources and time, conduct a coder readiness assessment to determine the individual readiness of each staffer, including specific areas for improvement or more extensive remediation.  Looking for additional training resources?  Consider 3M ICD-10 online training.

What’s your ICD-10 transition burden?  Every dual coding initiative has common steps but each is also unique. You’ll discover this as you determine the services and/or patient cases that comprise your healthcare offering. Things like where is your highest volume and what are your highest cost/highest revenue cases? What percentage of your workflow comprises high complexity cases? Do you work in areas heavily affected by ICD-10?

Everyone’s ICD-10 transition burden will be different; know what yours is and factor it into your program. Determine specific goals as you formalize what your dual coding program looks like. Key those goals off of answers you create from the questions in the previous paragraph.

Dual Coding Kickoff and Check List  A timeline and budget are all that’s left; make sure both are approved by your decision makers before you get rolling. And it wouldn’t hurt to make a nice fuss in the office with a fun little event or observance on the day the first pieces of your dual coding program kick in. This is a marathon not a sprint. Keep your employees happy. Somewhere along the line you’ll need nothing more than their good will and patience to “push on” during the most frustrating cycles of your ICC-10 transition.

Are you ready? Do the check list:

  • Dual coding strategy in place
  • Physicians trained and documenting with specificity to support ICD-10
  • Coders trained on ICD-10
  • Systems upgraded and tested
  • Updated forms and processes in place
  • Resources in place
  • Plan for assessing coding accuracy in place
  • Plan for assessing physician documentation completeness (for ICD-10) in place