By Lynne Thomas Gordon
Healthcare leaders are juggling multiple pressures, including the consistent delivery of high-quality patient care, evaluation and development of accountable care organizations, the careful management of sensitive patient data, achieving meaningful-use criteria, making the most efficient use of the newest technology and stretching revenue to maintain end-to-end coverage of their bottom lines.
With so many priorities, it’s easy to become distracted from managing important changes such as the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, or ICD-10. But there’s an urgent date on our calendars: the HHS’ final implementation date of Oct. 1, 2013, is a hard deadline that will trigger dramatic, though different, consequences for both those who will be prepared for the change and those who won’t. ACO reimbursement, bundled payments, clinical quality measures and public profiles will be based on ICD-10 data.
Given the high stakes, it is imperative that healthcare leaders avoid getting so caught up in the day-to-day that we fail to prepare properly for the many important changes that the ICD-10 conversion will demand from us.
The change to ICD-10 provides the U.S. the chance to discard the technologically outdated, medically inferior ICD-9 coding system and join all other World Health Organization member nations that have been successfully using ICD-10 to manage patient data for more than 15 years. Healthcare leaders will find that the more granular ICD-10 codes will provide opportunities to improve workflows, dive into quality improvement initiatives, demonstrate the severity of conditions being treated and participate with the rest of the developed world in the meaningful exchange of patient data for matters related to public health, scholarly research and the overall advancement of global health information management.
While multiple surveys conducted by AHIMA over the past year-and-a-half show promising signs that healthcare organizations are now making progress in planning for the ICD-10 conversion (85% of respondents recently indicated that they had begun work on ICD-10 planning and implementation), much work still remains if we’re to continue meeting implementation milestones. There is very little time for any industry providers or professional communities involved in data set management to lag behind or experience untimely (cont’d).
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Lynne Thomas Gordon is CEO of the American Health Information Management Association.