Feb 24, 2012

The innovative thinkers and influential healthcare leaders aren't relying on the decisions coming out of HHS to determine their strategy.  Despite the fact that many healthcare organizations were on target to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10, Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would initiate a process to postpone the date by which certain healthcare entities have to comply with ICD-10.  The details of the delay have not been revealed, but industry experts are speculating that a one-two year delay is in the works.  With only 20 months remaining to the Oct. 1, 2013 deadline, this leaves many organizations in limbo.  Do they continue down the path of ICD-10 adoption, revise plans based on speculation about a new timeline or completely put the initiative on hold?

The leaders in healthcare never limited their thinking to a coding mandate.  They were aligning their ICD-10 efforts with quality of care initiatives- EMR adoption and improved clinical documentation.  They won't hesitate, they won't miss a step, and they will focus on providing exceptional care through improved processes, many of which will prepare them for a successful transition to ICD-10and ICD-11.

The following areas of focus will improve quality of care, reporting and accuracy of reimbursement.

  • Lead with purpose- understand the long-term impact of a coding mandate and help providers understand the alignment of greater specificity in coding with quality reporting, improved clinical documentation and clinical decision support. 

  •  Take this time to improve clinical documentation- develop processes and feedback to improve how physicians and other providers document care.  This effort will reap financial benefits and directly impact quality of care and reporting.

  • Invest in educating coders- coders will benefit from increased knowledge in anatomy and physiology under any coding system.  Introduce the changes in coding structure that will come with ICD-10 and ICD-11.

  •  Appeal to the provider's intellect- roles and responsibilities continue to evolve in healthcare.  Help the provider understand their rolein clinical documentation and responsibility for greater specificity in describing care.  

Lead an effort focused on improved clinical documentation, not on coding.  Healthcare leaders who develop a purpose greater than a mandate path will be the clear winners from a quality reporting and reimbursement perspective.  Those who use the delay as another reason to "wait" put their organizations at financial risk and will lag behind the industry leaders with or without a delay.