D'Arcy Gue

One Year to ICD-10…Where, Oh Where is Our Progress?

October 6, 2013

ICD-10 3 Minute Read

Talking recently to a physician friend of mine, he stated in no uncertain terms: “I really hope this ICD-10 stuff goes away.” I started wondering how many other clinicians and their managers in our healthcare industry feel the same way?  Much like those in our government who wish Accountable Care would just go away, it is difficult to understand why ideas with so much promise to make our healthcare delivery system more efficient are met with so much resistance.  Ok, throw a tomato at me…!! But make sure it’s ripe….

I recently had one of my graduate students conduct a quick, non-scientific survey of Health Information Management professionals in several health organizations.  While it wasn’t my intent to publish the data, I was still surprised at what I perceive as a lack of much progress in ICD-10 preparation.  If our impromptu survey is any indication, the healthcare industry is in a heap of trouble unless it quickly gets its act together during the coming year.  Much like Y2K, HIPAA, MU, and just about any other mandated project, healthcare entities appear to be waiting to the last minute to get their ICD-10 act together. 

Is it poor leadership?  Is it, like my physician friend expressed, a general attitude that ICD-10 will just disappear and go away?  Or is it some other factor that always seems to rise to the forefront in our industry?  I wish I knew so I could make a lot of money fixing it…!!

Recognize that the ICD-10 project will be a challenge in itself, if only because the new codes will prominently and directly impact all payer and provider reimbursements on DAY one year to icd-10ONE. Not doing a thorough, well-planned job could be a killer.  Coding, clinical documentation, claims, receivables, compliance, health information management, finance, and all workers (including clinicians) in these areas, will be impacted.

I learned a long time ago that payroll and billing/receivable systems (among others) should always be well tested; you just can’t afford to screw them up.  Add the EHRs to that mix, too.  So, given the magnitude of impact every ICD-10 project will have in these areas, I am amazed at the apparent lack of progress. If you aren’t thigh-high (or up to your eyeballs) in your ICD-10 project by this time, I sure hope you have a healthy budget for committed resources.  You sure the heck will need them to make the date…!!

What about those of you who have already started an ICD-10 project?  During our impromptu non-scientific survey within organizations that have started, we saw concern among health information managers about the progress, or lack thereof, actually being made.  Call it management’s false sense of security?  Unfortunately, as a consultant for much of my career, I have often found internal assessments of status, progress, and readiness are difficult to accurately and reliably conduct.  Worse, they rarely convince management of any inadequacies or actual lack of progress.

The upcoming MGMA meeting should be illuminating, as well as the AHIMA convention at the end of this month.  Both will likely give additional insight into the progress being made in the industry’s preparation for ICD-10.   We all know the transition will be a hot topic.  I can only hope executive management of our nation’s healthcare organizations listen to their professional staffs and critically assess progress with this project.  It is critical they are successful.

Resume roulette, anyone?


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