July 30, 2013
Last week, I spent some time with a leader of Banner Health’s ICD-10 initiative. As I listened to his enthusiasm about the organization’s ICD-10 implementation progress, after three years of work, I was impressed with just that — his enthusiasm! Banner operates 23 acute care facilities as well as several laboratories and clinics across six western states and Alaska. My friend fully expects Banner will easily meet the October 1, 2014 deadline, and is actually “stoked” about seeing the fruit of their labors.
In recent months, I’ve had similar — very enthusiastic! — conversations with leaders of three other large health systems: Sentara (over 100 care sites in Virginia and North Carolina), Kaiser Permanente ( 37 medical centers and over 600 medical offices across nine states), and Catholic Health Partners (a 30+ hospital system, plus numerous other facilities in the midwest).
They all sound like my colleague at Banner: they’ve been working on ICD-10 since 2011 or earlier, and are genuinely excited to move forward to next year’s nation-wide conversion. As are many other large health systems in the country. And payers. And vendors. They constitute well over half of the healthcare industry.
There continues to be a national negative “conversation” about ICD-10, one that is creating an atmosphere of fear — based on the idea of inevitable chaos on October 1, 2014. Certain interest groups, congressmen, and press members have focused solely on the lack of ICD-10 readiness / enthusiasm among another segment of hospitals and providers, typically smaller organizations. There is a strong implication that since these providers are not yet on the ICD-10 bandwagon, their inaction should carry the day. The strategy behind the conversation? Get CMS to delay the deadline, again.
That conversation has only been about those who haven’t — not those who have — engaged with ICD-10. Shouldn’t we pay some attention to the millions of hours and dollars that the larger provider organizations have spent on ICD-10? What about the majority of payers and vendors, who have made similar investments?
ONC Farzad Mostashari, and HHS Director Kathleen Sebelius have been asked repeatedly about delaying the deadline, and both have reiterated that there will not be another delay. And that there is no need for one. They believe another pause in the ICD-10 initiative would stall healthcare progress for which many have worked hard and long.
My perception is that the teams at Banner, CHP, Kaiser, Sentara — and the many other healthcare organizations that are heads down making ICD-10 happen — would agree. Their visionary efforts to achieve the many benefits of ICD-10 should not be wasted.
The ever-increasing momentum of large provider systems, payers and vendors cannot — should not — be ignored. Nor can the firm deadline set by HHS. Providers who have yet to embark on their ICD-10 journey still have time, but will have to move quickly and efficiently to meet the October 1, 2014 deadline.
Additionally, the larger conversation needs to change. A collective shift to a positive perspective should be embraced by all providers. After all, ICD-10 will bring significant improvements to the world of healthcare. Take a look at the Benefits of ICD-10 report to get a better understanding of the advantages the new code set offers.