HIMSS takes the lead on making the ICD-10 transition more manageable

A few weeks ago when I talked to Connie Tohara, director of Health Information at University of Utah Hospital, she emphasized the need to get information from the "right sources." There is too much money and hype pushing misinformation. She specifically mentioned the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) as right sources.

HIMSS is really stepping up its effort to be one of those "right sources."  Last week, Juliet A. Santos, a senior director at HIMSS, outlined how HIMSS can help the healthcare industry reach ICD-10 compliance. Their advisory report Implementing ICD-10 by the Compliance Date: A Call to Action explains what they're doing and what other healthcare organizations can do to advance a smooth industry-wide transition. Here are the main steps:

"Achieve broad stakeholder support for an ICD-10 Pilot Program with end-to-end business process testing"
Last month it announced its ICD-10 National Pilot Program, a testing platform for ICD-10 early adopters. HIMSS is developing this program with Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI). (Let's put WEDI on that list of "right sources" too.) They hope to get some nationwide testing done next year and generate some data on where the problems exist.

The key part of the pilot program will be the reporting on how tests go. If we can get good information early, hopefully healthcare organizations can use it to keep their ICD-10 transitions running smoothly.

"Accelerate vendor readiness supporting health plans, providers, and other vendors"
HIMSS wants more vendors to use VitalVendors, a self-reporting tool that communicates vendor readiness, to help healthcare providers and payers prepare. Note that VitalVendors isn't meant to endorse any vendors but help organizations understand how far along their vendors are in the ICD-10 transition. That has a direct affect on internal readiness.

"Significantly expand education focused on independent physician groups and providers"
When you look at everything that hospitals have to prepare for, they seem to have to an incredibly complex task at hand. Yet they have the resources to figure it out and hire enough people to figure out the ICD-10 transition. And for the most part, they're on a pretty good path to ICD-10 compliance. For example, the University of Utah Hospital is on track to be able to use ICD-10 coding by Oct. 1, 2013. The next year will be spent dual coding.

How many small, independent practices can make that claim?

Call it what you will, but there is a lot of good that can be done by helping physicians understand how to manage an ICD-10 transition.

"Recognize the Cooperating Parties, which include Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), National Center for Health Statistics, (NCHS), American Hospital Association (AHA), and American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) as the 'single source of truth' for accurate and consistent coding"
What HIMSS is calling a "cooperating party" Tohara would call a "right source." This report calls on the parties to share more information about coding issues and guidelines.

Which is all well and good. There's a definite need. But the needs go further than coding questions. As we keep writing in this space, this isn't just a coding problem. It's a huge project management, health information management and business process problem. These are the really confusing parts that can steer a medical practice toward a bad decision.

HIMSS is taking the lead on helping healthcare providers work a major, complicated and expensive project. Their efforts are going to generate a lot of information that everyone can use to manage it better.