An Athens, Ga.-based health IT executive turned consultant has launched a free ICD-10 resource for rural and critical access hospitals.

Tyler Wallace, who took the leap from the corporate payroll to found the consultancy Small Jumps in 2013, launched Rural ICD-10 last month. The project was born rather serendipitously.

"I was ICD-10 project manager at a large health system, and when we acquired a Critical Access Hospital, it became my responsibility to prepare for ICD-10 there," Wallace says. "By definition, it's in the middle of nowhere, and I didn't have the time or resources to get there. So I put this little packet together for the HIM director and said, 'Here, implement this by these dates and you'll be ready,' and she said it was the greatest thing ever. I thought 'That was easy, I'm just doing my job.' So I thought, 'What if I did this for more rural hospitals?'

"I ended up leaving the health system, and realized this was a good model to consult for rural hospitals. Instead of going on site like a traditional consulting model, I'm a remote consultant. It works really well, and I developed the project infrastructure for the nation's largest rural ICD-10 collaborative. I was managing the ICD-10 project for 52 hospitals across five states."

Ironically, it may have been the recent legislated delay in implementing ICD-10 that gave Wallace the time to launch the free resource site.

"We started in April 2013, the hospitals were killing it, and then the delay happened," he says. "The hospitals would have been ready by October 2014, so I thought 'Let's put this on hold,' and I began thinking 'If I can help 50 hospitals, how can I help every rural hospital?' So that's what I began doing with Rural ICD-10, I was putting my knowledge out there so that maybe another rural hospital could benefit from it."

The Rural ICD-10 site includes resources such as an online checklist and training videos. Wallace says the first two weeks the site was up he had 20 people hit the site each week, then he began promoting it on social media. By mid-July the site had 125 unique visitors. Wallace was hoping to double that each week and hit 1,000 unique visitors by the end of the month.

Though Wallace is competent in web development skills such as search engine optimization to help give the site more visibility, he is sanguine about his place in the overall HIT consulting landscape and how to leverage the site to everyone's benefit.

"I'm not a big player," he says. "Other industries use affiliate marketing. How this may grow, that's the million-dollar question--well, the $100,000 question. I'm exploring different advertising options and hopefully it will feed into my consulting company. I just want to be a resource--there's not a lot out there for rural hospitals transitioning to ICD-10."

Of course, Wallace says the site may also hold something of value for large-system HIT executives grappling with the transition, too, but says "I had to choose a niche, and I know rural hospitals. So I started there.”

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