The deadline for ICD-10 implementation is now set for October 1, 2015, and the transition to a new code set brings with it some big changes. Forward-thinking HIM professionals, however, are looking at the transition as an opportunity rather than a challenge. By approaching the new code set as a clinical priority in addition to a financial priority, these professionals are opening up exciting new avenues for lowering costs and improving outcomes. But the time to prepare for the transition is now. Consult this quick guide, and think about how your organization will make the most of ICD-10.

Engaging Physicians

ICD-9 is now 30 years old, and it has some widely acknowledged weaknesses when it comes to reporting patient’s medical conditions and the specifics of their inpatient care. Capturing this data and giving it relevance depends on physicians being engaged with the new coding scheme. That requires a certain degree of retraining and the embrace of new technologies, which is why framing ICD-10 as a clinical priority is so important. The more that physicians see ICD-10 as an opportunity to improve the quality of care along with the finances of their employers, the more fully they will engage with the new codes.

Implementing Better Tools

ICD-10 is significantly more complicated than the code set it is replacing. The new code adds extra digits, uses more than just numerals, adds new granularities, and has the potential to grow in ways that ICD-9 could not. Making sense of this extra data in a clinical setting requires new tools. Options already considered include computer based instructions, pocket sized code guides, and phone apps. HIM professionals are also working to develop new templates that simplify ICD-10 codes for novice users. The use of voice-recognition technology as an input method is also being explored.

Seizing New Opportunities

Medicare’s Value-Based Purchasing Program will also go into effect in 2015, creating a powerful incentive for clinicians to embrace ICD-10. The specificity of the new coding system creates more accurate opportunities for benchmarking, allowing physicians to compare their methods and outcomes to others. With Medicare payments being increasingly linked to outcomes, all physicians will need to rely on ICD-10 reporting to develop best practices.


Even the most optimistic HIM professionals acknowledge that the scope of the change once ICD-10 goes into effect will be overwhelming. That is why it is so important to develop a technical infrastructure now. Find the staff you need and the fresh ideas you want by working with the recruitment experts at MedPartners HIM.