Although Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced policies that could help make the transition to the ICD-10 code set less disruptive for physicians, it’s still crucial to prepare as much as possible before the Oct. 1 implementation deadline. Get the top free resources you can use in your practice.

In response to the AMA’s extensive communication of physicians’ concerns, the CMS announced Monday that it is making some critical changes to the transition period between ICD-9 and ICD-10. The changes are intended to allow physicians to continue providing high-quality patient care without worrying about the potential for claims disruptions.

For example, for the first year ICD-10 is in place, Medicare claims will not be denied solely based on the specificity of diagnosis codes, as long as they are from the appropriate family of ICD-10 codes.

To help make the transition as smooth as possible for your practice, make sure you’re prepared ahead of the year-long transition period. These eight resources can help get your practice up to speed for the code switch:

  • The AMA’s ICD-10 project plan template (log in). This downloadable template is customizable in Microsoft Excel and can be your guide to getting ready.
  • Sample medical cases from CMS. Use these to determine proper documentation and coding with ICD-10. After completing the questions, you can view your results in comparison to your peers and the correct way to code the case in ICD-9 and ICD-10. New scenarios will be released weekly.
  • Free trainings with CMS for small and rural practices. The trainings will use customizable action plans, clinical scenarios and resources. The latest trainings are scheduled for Alaska, Arizona and Nebraska.
  • An AMA tip sheet series for each step of the transition process. The series will walk you through what you need to know, from  assessing your documentation needs (log in) to completing thorough testing (log in) and understanding cash-flow interruptions (log in).
  • The ICD-10 Tips and Resources newsletter from the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC). This newsletter delivers monthly tips to your inbox, and the entire archive is available online.
  • CMS’ specialty-specific references. Get common codes for your specialty, primers for clinical documentation and clinical scenarios. The agency also has webcasts on unique clinical documentation needs and hot topics for each medical specialty.
  • The AMA’s ICD-10 Web page. Find background information, reports and other resources, including additional tip sheets and checklists.
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