8 ways collaboratives can help with ICD-10 efforts

The ICD-10 transition will be a major project to manage. Many healthcare providers may see it as too major and complex.

Across the country, ICD-10 collaboratives are helping healthcare organizations meet the challenges presented by ICD-10 implementation.

Collaboratives can take many forms, but generally they are organizations comprised of healthcare providers, health plans and vendors focusing on a common challenge. Often there are workgroups within the collaboratives that have specific goals and tasks. For example, an ICD-10 collaborative training workgroup may make a list of training vendors and coordinate classes for members.

Mark Jahn, currently vice president of Atrilogy Solutions Group, helped create the Minnesota ICD-10 Collaborative, a collection of more than 20 regional health plans and healthcare providers. He is now in southern California and gathering support for a regional ICD-10 collaborative. He shared eight areas in which collaboratives can benefit members:

  • Opening lines of communication. This is the biggest benefit, said Jahn. It's valuable to get payers, providers and vendors to sit at the same table to talk about the issues, problems and risks of ICD-10 implementation.
  • Addressing risks collectively. In particular, risks associated with maintaining reimbursement levels.
  • Avoiding duplication of effort. A lot of the ICD-10 impact assessment work involves the same research that many members will have to do. Instead of everyone making lists of the same vendors and resources to contact, create lists and templates that can be shared among members. "Why should all providers go out and create a list of potential training vendors when you can do that collectively?" Jahn asked.
  • Aligning schedules and timelines. This is incredibly valuable when it comes time for the different types of organizations to work together. "Knowing when people are available to test" is an example, noted Jahn.
  • Negotiating better rates. Small healthcare providers are at a disadvantage when it comes to purchasing power. But the collaborative can pool the members' purchasing power for common services such as training.
  • Supporting small healthcare providers. "I think everybody's worried about the small provider and the systemic issues related to small providers not being ready for ICD-10," said Jahn. This can take form as education and awareness campaigns.
  • Leveraging benefits of the ICD-10 code sets. There isn't a chance to take advantage of the specificity of ICD-10 codes yet. But how to do that can be a bit difficult to imagine. Jahn sees an opportunity to share knowledge that's not easy to grasp and use.
  • Resolving problems. Collaboratives are comprised of providers, payers and, hopefully, vendors. By working together, members form relationships that make it easier to smooth out issues. A lot of that is knowing whom to call and being familiar with the people who can help solve problems.


These benefits make collaboratives very appealing to small hospitals and medical practices. They can take advantage of economies of scale to lessen the financial impact and learn valuable information that may be missed. That second part seems to be key.

Many healthcare professionals say they don't have the time or resources to learn best practices or understand the larger issues. For example, many healthcare providers weren't exposed to the idea of combining meaningful use and ICD-10 projects.

Hopefully collaboratives can ease the burdens of ICD-10 implementation.