The Transition: Preparing for ICD-10

ICD-10 represents a significant improvement over ICD-9, but structural differences may make converting appear to be difficult. The ICD-10 code set reflects advances in medicine and uses current medical terminology. The pending ICD-10 implementation means that physicians need to ensure that by October 1, 2015, their chart documentation will support the increased clinical specificity of the new code set.  They will also need to prepare their staff for the change.  A successful transition will ultimately depend on planning and managing this process.

According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, there are several preliminary planning steps to ensure medical practices are compliant once ICD-10 becomes effective. Important steps in preparing for the change include:

  • Talking to vendors, clearing houses or billing services to allow for thorough ICD-10 testing.
  • Identifying your current systems and work processes that use ICD-9 codes and establishing crosswalks to ICD-10. 
  • Estimating a budget for potential new or additional costs that may include items such as; practice management systems, new coding guides, superbills, staff training, etc.

These activities are all essential components of a successful transition.

For more information on how medical practices can prepare, CMS has provided a detailed ICD-10 Transition Checklist which includes estimated timeframes for large practices  here at: and medium to small practices here at: to monitor your progress.

Additionally, CMS has just released a new, specialty-specific implementation tool, Road to !0.  You can view the tool at:  The new  tool includes multiple resources and links to help you build your transition action plan.

ACOG’s Department of Health Economics and Coding Education strongly encourages physicians and their staff to start preparing for ICD-10 implementation now if they haven’t already. We will continue to add new tools and information to the site throughout the course of the transition.

For more information on ICD-10 visit ACOG’s ICD-10 webpage at:


Donna Tyler
Manager, Coding Education

Keisha Sutton
Coding Specialist