Once the actual ICD-10 transition date has passed, the detective work begins. Healthcare organizations will need to identify what’s going well with the new coding system, what needs to be tweaked and what requires rapid intervention.

Unlike Y2K, ICD-10 will remain a key concern of organizations for weeks to come.

An expert panel convened by Health Data Management discussed what they’ll be looking for in the time immediately after October 1.

The panelists included:

  • Aaron Miri, CIO at Walnut Hill Medical Center.
  • Jean McCammack, Chief Quality Officer at Walnut Hill Medical Center.
  • Debbie Schrubb, Corporate Director of Health Information Management and Kettering Physician Network Coding at Kettering Health Network.
  • Stephen Stewart, Interim CIO at Schuylkill Health Systems in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

Fred Bazzoli: In the days after October 1, what should you be watching for, in the event that there are problems with the transition to ICD-10? Who should you coordinate with within your organization? What are some conversations you need to have, whether things are going well or poorly?

Jean McCammack: We're not real sure what to expect, but IT is ready and able to handle the normal issues that we’ve planned for. However, we really don't know what the response is going to be back from third-party payers, and if it’s going to have negative or positive result for us. So much work has gone into this to ensure it’s a positive result.

Aaron Miri: Another thing we've done is look at how organizations outside the United States handled this. For example, in Canada there are a number of studies that indicate when they made the ICD-10 changeover, coding and billing staff had to deal with productivity that was cut in half for several months.

So we have to anticipate those types of impacts and communicate with the staff about them. We also have to expect that payers, both government and commercial, are going to be overwhelmed with calls: I mean, how many calls can they handle on their help desks?

I also expect the processes to deal with denials and specificity issues are going to take a lot of time to work out. It already takes a lot of time to process claims you feel are legitimate and the payer doesn't. Now we’re adding ICD-10 to that equation with another factor of complexity. So we have to get staff to accept the fact that the next several months are going to be bumpy, and there’s a lot we don't know.

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