Mandatory implementation of ICD-10 is slated for October 1, 2015 (at least that’s what Medicare has implied). That means your physical therapy practice has just the right amount of time to properly prepare. One key aspect of preparation is testing, both inside and outside of the clinic. Later this month, we’ll cover how to test with entities outside of your practice. Today, though, let’s discuss testing within your practice to ensure that your staff can correctly use the new codes and that each internal process works.

Before You Begin

  1. Nail down the list of people at your practice who interact with codes (e.g., billers, front office staff, and therapists).
  2. Identify your practice’s most frequently used ICD-9 codes and their ICD-10 equivalents.
  3. Learn how your staff identifies correct ICD-9 codes and how they plan to do that with ICD-10 codes.
  4. Determine whether those processes make the best sense for the new code set.

Implement Dual Coding

To confirm that your staff can correctly use ICD-10 codes, we recommend dual coding, or reporting and verifying both the ICD-9 code and the correct ICD-10 equivalent for all patients. Not only will this help you and your staff get acclimated to the new code set, but also it will allow you to identify the ICD-10 codes most frequently used in your practice and specialty. Note that most payers are not currently accepting ICD-10 codes, and many may not accept them before the official transition date. So check with your payers before submitting any claims featuring both ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes.

Test Internal Processes

Depending on how your practice currently codes, you may need to alter your current coding processes. For example, with ICD-10, it’s important that PTs select ICD-10 codes that address the exact patient condition they’re treating as opposed to simply carrying over the referring physician’s codes. Once you understand your current processes, test them for ICD-10, and then adjust accordingly. Continue this method until your clinic establishes workflows that truly work for ICD-10 across all teams and applications.

Have you started testing ICD-10 within your practice? What advice do you have for other PTs?