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Adapting to Change

April 7, 2014

Groups like the American Medical Association which lobbied hard for another ICD-10 delay had their wish granted on Monday evening. The healthcare industry anxiously watched as the Senate carried a majority vote in favor of an SGR patch and ICD-10 go-live delay. To date, your business partners and vendors have helped pave the way for a smooth transition to what was an October 1, 2014 go-live of ICD-10. The question remains, aside from the noteworthy financial impact of the SGR fix, how will prolonging the inevitable transition to ICD-10 help providers?

          Many providers who favored a delayed start are the same professionals who provide guidance or help us achieve better health. As a patient, I would be scolded by my doctor for choosing to address a problematic wound with countless bandages rather than coming in for an office visit. This legislation is no different, and it is a temporary bandage for those who reluctantly viewed the 2014 transition as a nagging wound that would be better served by being ignored. According to a recent survey, Health IT Outcomes reported that nearly 75% of providers are not ready for ICD-10. The time will come when those folks will feel like Looney Tune’s Wile E. Coyote when he realizes (with a panic) he has run off a cliff and the rules of gravity are about to apply. Monday’s announcement is a temporary win for anyone who failed to prepare for the transition to ICD-10, especially providers who were relying solely on their EHR vendors and staff to do everything for them.

          For many of us whose primary attention is at the heart of ICD-10 and how it relates to revenue cycle, what is often overlooked is how provider workflow has been impacted in recent years beyond ICD-10. While practice management systems have been omnipresent for decades, adoption of EHR systems is relatively new. I have met providers who opted for early retirement in lieu of behavioral changes in their clinical documentation from a paper world to an electronic one. What’s more, the pressures of fulfilling the requirements for Meaningful Use Stage 2 and for health centers pursuing PCMH, the effort is ongoing.

Don’t allow Monday’s postponement diminish how you think about your current investment in ICD-10 education, training, and upgrades to your software. For folks who have maintained steady momentum over the past several weeks or even months, there is no need to stop now.  I have always taken the “cup half full” approach in life, and now is a perfect opportunity to embrace the same attitude. The additional time should afford better preparation and cohesion among all of your staff around ICD-10. This is especially true for providers who have been less involved. As John Wooden said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” 

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