Linda Reed on ICD-10: Prepare and don't get caught short

Despite yet another delay in the transition to ICD-10, providers still must remain focused and alert to ensure that, should implementation go forward on Oct. 1, 2015, cash flow remains uninterrupted. That was the message last week from Linda Reed (pictured right), vice president and CIO at Morristown, New Jersey-based Atlantic Health System.

"Many [CIOs] were embarrassed because we were adamant about the fact that ICD-10 was going to happen in 2014," Reed, who also serves on FierceHealthIT's Editorial Advisory Board, said at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives fall forum in San Antonio, Texas, last week. "We said to our boards--we said it to everyone--'yes, it's going to happen,' and then they pulled the rug out from under us, so we looked a little silly. Today, we still have board members asking if 'is it going to happen?' Not one of us wants to say yes."

However, she said, that's not an option; instead, productivity and revenue must be viewed in a synergistic manner when keeping ICD-10 needs in mind.

"Everyone talks about the productivity hit you're going to take with your coders all because of the learning curve, but at the same time think about the financial impact," she said. "You're going to get bills out the door slower because of the learning curve. There's going to be more mistakes, so those things are going to get kicked back and there's going to be more denials. All of those things together, while some people think they're scare tactics, they're very real and you have to address them."

To that end, Reed listed a number of ways hospitals could prepare for the transition, including:

  • Preparing for adjudications
  • Adjusting and increasing financial reserves
  • Renegotiating major supplier terms
  • Identifying high-volume codes
  • Establishing a line of credit for any cash-flow issues

"Prepare and don't get caught short," Reed said. "Understand your coding and documentation environment. Shore up your HIO resources."

Nelly Leon-Chisen (pictured left), director of coding and classification at the American Hospital Association, agreed. Chisen, who spoke alongside Reed, said that despite "fatigue" for the yet-to-occur transition, all other relevant hospital efforts are totally reliant on complete and accurate data information.

"Whether you're talking about quality reporting, negotiating contracts, accountable care organizations or fraud prevention, all of those things are impacted by how well we understand the patients that we treat," Chisen said. "The ICD-10 codes provide a lot more detail and will help us understand, better, these patients and help us make better decisions."