Beginning October 2015, ICD-10 will be implemented in physicians' offices across the U.S. With some 60,000 new codes, the updated system will provide a number of benefits, including improved accessibility, fewer coding errors and less overall paperwork. However, with those improvements come the prerequisite challenges and issues that can make the early days of transition especially hectic. Being aware of these challenges is crucial before the implementation date to ensure office staff and physicians are as ready as possible for the fall deadline.

1. A dip in morale
In the first several weeks of the transition, a typical doctor's office is going to be doubly busy. Physicians will have to meet new requirements for documentation, nurses and support staff will be adjusting to mountains of new diagnostic codes, and IT staff will have their hands full with system upgrades. As such, it's entirely possible that tensions could build within an office, leading to the possibility of workplace stress and communication breakdowns between departments and staff members.

As such, it's crucial that morale be the primary focus during this time, according to Electronic Health Reporter. Staff should be given an acceptable level of leeway as they adjust to the new system, meaning frustrations might occur frequently. The aim, then, is to approach these as amicably as possible to ensure a certain level of professionalism while addressing everyone's concerns and questions. A staff luncheon or shared coffee break each day might also alleviate stress and keep staff on the same page.

2. Decreases in productivity
When Canada implemented ICD-10 several years ago, workflow suffered across the country. In fact, the rate of productivity for most coders fell by some 40 percent, according to Healthcare IT News. It wouldn't be improbable, then, that doctor's offices and hospitals in the U.S. might experience a similar initial lag. Additionally, that level of decrease can have something of a ripple effect, not only impacting the coding department but everyone in a given office or organization. 

The best bet, ICD-10 Watch explained, is to plan ahead for this inevitable dip in productivity. That might mean bringing in additional coders, either for full-term employment or just in the months following the transition. Another idea is to try and streamline the medical billing service, making sure that coders work only on the most vital tasks as they adjust to the new system. Often, even slight shifts in the workplace can improve productivity, Forbes reported.  That could include everything from more natural lighting to ergonomic chairs and keyboards.

3. Expanding the knowledge base
On the one hand, ICD-10 will allow physicians to acquire payment with less hassle and work on their end. However, the could switch could result in a lot of additional homework for physicians, Medscape explained.

Let's say a doctor wanted to order a sleep study or CBC test. In order to perform either, there might be new conditions and requirements a patient must meet for beforehand. Remembering and sorting through the necessary medical coding and billing could very well impact a doctor's ability to see as many patients in a given day.

As with any abundance of administrative work, knowledge is required for medical professional regarding ICD-10. One of the best ways is to use software to create a frequency report, which will offer a list of the most widely ordered tests. This knowledge can prove useful as a doctor better understands the extent of their practice and what treatments patients require most. Correlating this data will help to reduce confusion and make it easier to get through the actual coding, cutting down on how much time and effort is involved for each unique report.