A practice’s ICD-10 training costs can add up quickly if there is no plan in place for needs assessment, scheduling training and post-training followup and arranging for system upgrades. Here are four ways to take control of those costs while giving your staff the training and other necessary tools to implement the coming changes.
1. Get organized with a plan and implementation time frame.
American Health Information Management System (AHIMA) CEO Lynne T. Gordon recommends designating one person from your staff to oversee the transition and training project. By having someone in charge of making initial staff need assessments, arrange for training, co-ordinate staff training schedules, as well as follow up with post-training testing and assessment, you will not only be better organized and prepared for the coming changes but will ultimately save the practice time and money with trained personnel making fewer mistakes..
2. Know your training-related expenses.
The average hourly training cost per coder has been estimated to be around $100, multiplied by at least 50 hours of training. Even without the employee’s salary added in, it can send the cost to well over $5,000 for one coder to learn the new coding system. Of course, you will have to include the employee’s salary to those figures to get a more accurate idea of the true costs of training.
Don’t forget to budget for the additional hidden costs of retraining staff on changes and upgrades to technology and software. Your vendor may offer discounted classes or other training to ease this transition.
You will also need to take into consideration that you will probably see a drop in the practice’s short-term income resulting from downtime, as coders become accustomed to the new system.
3. Practice good time management.
If you’ve planned ahead, by now you should be well along with your staff’s training, as well as have scheduled all necessary software and other support upgrades. If distance, a small staff or other factors make attending a classroom prohibitive for your employees, consider having one staff member act as trainer for the rest. Gordon recommends breaking up training segments into smaller blocks of time to let busy staffers finish training in more manageable increments. This may help smaller practices cope with the reduction of staff productivity while in training.
4. Plan for work flow interruptions during and following training but take steps to minimize them.
Even the best-trained coders will need time to become familiar enough with the new coding, which will slow down productivity, based on previous studies by RAND of time lost during such transitions. While the best way to avoid this is to ensure that they get optimum training, there are bound to be delays and errors. Build these into your budget, such as hiring extra per dime coders to help maintain work flow, so you won’t be caught off-guard.
Remember that you always get what you pay for. Skimping on training never pays off: the time and money you think you’re saving now will be more than taken up by appealing denied claims due to coding mistakes as well as running the risk of inviting an audit. Giving your staff the necessary time and training to learn ICD-10 well before its implementation deadline will allow them to work out the learning curve kinks, reducing costly mistakes down the road.
For additional tips and assistance in preparing for the upcoming ICD-10 changes, contact M-Scribe – a leader in the medical reimbursement industry. Their experienced counselors can guide you through these and other regulations, ensuring optimum compliance and reimbursement.