Two things I was not sure would ever happen, have: SGR was repealed, and ICD-10 was not yet again delayed. By now you likely have experienced first-hand that the on-again-off-again past for ICD-10 conversion has made it far more difficult to gain traction with your medical staff.

“Why take the time to learn this now when it will only be delayed again?” 

At this point there are no pending or legitimate legislative vehicles to initiate such a delay — even if the desire existed. OK, so I guess it is really happening. 

Given the inevitability, are you ready? Certainly a few are, but most systems, hospitals and medical practices likely are not.

If you aren’t ready, is it too late? In short, most experts would say, “No.” 

To date, the blogs in this series have made many assertions:

  1. Nearly all health care delivery systems in the United States will be affected by the change.
  2. Nearly all aspects of the revenue cycle will be affected by the change.
  3. All specialties of clinical practice will be affected.

Given the importance and the complexity, where should you optimally be on your journey to preparation?

  1. Ideally, you would have already confirmed readiness of all affected vendors.
  2. Ideally, you would have already confirmed that your coders and billing personnel are prepared.
  3. Ideally, you would have already identified and trained key clinical specialties likely to be most affected.
  4. Ideally, you would already have reserved funds sufficient to weather the short-term revenue cycle effects we will all encounter after Oct. 1, 2015.

A wise approach to this would be to control what you can, and prepare for what you can’t. Nos. 1, 2 and 4 are clearly within the control of health systems, hospitals and physicians. Getting those done is key. No. 3 seems to be the wildcard.

Identifying the clinicians most affected is pretty straightforward. Engaging them in training and transformation is anything but. How do we get there?

  1. Offer substantive specialty specific face-to-face training at flexible times.
  2. Consider transitioning some facilities or practices early and sharing the lessons learned internally to inform preparation for the rest of your organization.
  3. Create on-demand specialty specific training options providers can access as Oct. 1 approaches and passes. Anticipate that the deadline will create a surge of interest in training and be prepared for it.
  4. In whatever ways feasible, have ICD-10 super users-and physician champions on the hospital floors and in the offices to help as the transition approaches.

The question of whether it is happening is settled. Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves.

Adam L. Myers, M.D., is chief medical officer of Texas Health Physicians Group.