Love it, or hate it? Tired of reading about it, or just beginning to delve into all of the details? Regardless of which of these phrases most closely describes your relationship with ICD-10, there several things you can do to make this transition a smooth one. One of the most effective? Using an EMR. If you’re already using a system, great; now’s the perfect time to evaluate whether it offers everything you need to be successful with ICD-10 adoption. “Because of ICD-10’s complex code structures, implementing associated changes in electronic health records, billing systems, reporting packages and other decision-making and analytical systems will require either major upgrades of multiple systems or outright replacement of older systems,” says this HealthIT article. So, as we move toward and beyond October 1, the necessity of making these changes is inevitable. Here are some ways that an EMR will help you with the ICD-10 switch:


Do you love thumbing through hundreds of pages of codes? I know that I don’t enjoy spending extra time on tasks I could complete more efficiently—and accurately—using the proper tools. When you use an EMR, you’ll save yourself the papercuts and the time it takes to find the most accurate diagnosis code in a 10-pound book. However, while coding by the book might be inefficient, a code book can act as a useful guide, and it may offer additional information about the ICD-10 codes specific to your your area of practice. That said, usefulness doesn’t always equate to efficiency. To boost your productivity, look for an EMR that offers an easy-to-use ICD-10 tool and plenty of free customer service to help you navigate the new functionality.


Working more efficiently doesn’t count for much if you sacrifice accuracy for speed. And when it comes to ICD-10, the proof is in the accuracy pudding, which means you need to whip up some accurate codes—quickly and without much time to “chill” for the best results. So, instant accuracy pudding it is: you can use your EMR’s functionality to help you quickly narrow down all of your coding options. Once you’ve made your selection, you’ll want to make sure you have clean documentation to back up the medical necessity of treatment.

So, if your EMR does not support clean and accurate documentation in addition to offering an intelligent ICD-10 tool, it might be time to make a change. As this Government Health IT article points out, “With the introduction of ICD-10, EHRs must also be capable of producing documentation with a high degree of specificity and ideally offer the appropriate codes.” Even when you have the help of an EMR for coding and documentation, you’ll still need to use your clinical judgement. But, with the help of an intelligent code picker, you’ll have an easier time sifting through all 68,000 codes to find the precise ones you need.


The transition to ICD-10 has the potential to provide better data for evaluating and improving the quality of patient care; interoperability aims to achieve those same goals. And—you guessed it—an EMR can help connect these two pieces of the patient care puzzle. As this HIMSS article explains: “In the larger context, ICD-10 is not a competing initiative but an enabler for the EHR adoption to help build the data infrastructure needed for a nationwide healthcare system where clinicians, hospitals, laboratories and pharmacies can share patient information electronically, in a secure way.”


Like it or hate it, to face ICD-10 with efficiency, accuracy, and interoperability, you’ve got to adopt—or evaluate and change—your EMR.