Why awareness is the first step to a successful ICD-10 move

Author Name Kyle Murphy, PhD   |   Date November 7, 2013
Healthcare organizations and providers have only a finite amount of time left to prepare for the big shift to ICD-10 on Oct. 1, 2014. Surely, the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 has many health systems, hospitals, and physician practices rushing to allocate resources to make it happen. However, this hurried approach could mean overlooking an important first step, simply understanding what’s at stake.
“People are so overwhelmed and they don’t know enough about it, and they’re not necessarily either taking the time or getting the opportunity to think about the results of the decisions that they’re making now,” Deb Neville, Director of Revenue Cycle, Coding and Compliance at Elsevier/MC Strategies, toldEHRIntelligence.com at AHIMA 2013. “I wish people would not be so scared and start being more thoughtful. It will help them in the long run.”
According to Neville, recognizing what’s ahead will place stakeholders in a better position to assess what needs to get done. Considering the amount of resources that healthcare organizations and providers will invest in ICD-10, especially those lagging behind, not having a clear sense of the path ahead could easily lead to wasted investments in the form of technology and services.
“You need to know where you’re going. You need to have that GPS, you need to plan your vacation out, and you need to have your milestones,” she added. “If you’re going to start spending money, I would really recommend starting to spend the money on planning and not just buying some new technology.”
No matter the cause of this lack of awareness, its persistence is likely to create problems where there’s little margin for error. And the one-year delay for ICD-10 compliance may only have exacerbated the problem.
Once [CMS] made the decision to extend to 2014, the door was open to hold off because chances are it’ll get put off again,” explained Neville. “And that’s a little bit scary because it’s not something that you can implement in a couple months. It really does take a lot of evaluation and planning. That’s the biggest concern: It’s not like you just go out, look at a couple cars, buy one, and drive away with it. There are way too many people who are involved.”
For those in the healthcare industry not currently doing enough to be ready for ICD-10, the good news is that there is hope — that is, so long as they face facts. “They’re going to be ready if they know what their goal is and what they want to do,” Neville argued.
One such fact is understanding that others are in the same boat. These means there should be a mash dash for resources and therefore serious competition.
“What they’re going to find is that, especially ones that are dependent now on outsourcing companies,” continued Neville, “those outsourcing companies (1) have to do the training as well and (2) there’s going to be a huge demand. They need to start planning and budgeting that as well. That’s part of the goal.”
While transitioning to ICD-10 is a major change for the healthcare industry, it begins the same way that other implementation projects do, with asking the question, “What is the objective?” Unless healthcare organizations and providers approach ICD-10, their frustrations are only likely to continue well beyond the beginning of next October.
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