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One of the most suspenseful moments in any movie is when the protagonist, who has been desperately searching for answers throughout the many plot twists, comes upon a locked box or room and slips a key into a worn lock.  If it’s a particularly suspenseful film, that moment might even cause you to hold your breath as you wait to hear that all-too-familiar “click” that signals the revelation of a long-anticipated moment of truth.  When you think about it, this apprehension and line of questioning is not unlike how healthcare providers are feeling about the upcoming ICD-10 transition.

Much like a suspenseful movie, there have been many unexpected twists and turns leading up to the moment of truth – October 1, 2014 – when providers across the country will discover whether or not they have the right key that ensures the accurate, quality documentation necessary to unlock reimbursement dollars.  And so the real question becomes: do you have the right key?

Now is the time to evaluate your organization’s ICD-10 strategy.  Full preparation for the ICD-10 transition maps to three main facets: people, technology and process.  Here are some guidelines that will help you determine whether or not your organization is prepared so that you can course adjust as needed:

Invest in your people.  Whenever you’re implementing large-scale changes, ensuring buy-in and providing education are critical factors to successful change management.  For ICD-10, that means making sure you have physician champions and you are providing them with education materials and opportunities specific to their day-to-day roles and obligations.  Additionally, because change can be difficult,  fostering your health information management teams’ professional development and working with your HR department on employee retention plans will help to maintain employee satisfaction across the board during these challenging times.

Maximize technology.  Education is critical but it won’t lighten the burden of new regulatory requirements all on its own.  That’s where technology comes to bat.  Using software that can assist with electronic health record (EHR) data entry, physician documentation or computer-assisted coding will streamline workflows, reduce errors and improve turnaround times.  And, if you really want to set yourself up for success, now is the time to establish the infrastructure needed to enable real-time data analytics, which will help you track your successes, identify areas of opportunity and aid in reporting requirements.

Create tailored processes.  Developing the right processes is important to your organization’s ICD-10 transitional success.  Instituting a clinical documentation improvement (CDI) program not only prepares your clinical documentation specialists (CDS) and coding staff for the challenges that lay ahead, but also helps protect your organization  against potential revenue leaks.  Additionally, by conducting test runs, you can properly assess your teams’ readiness and realign processes as needed before the ICD-10 deadline arrives.

Although challenging, addressing these factors in your ICD-10 plans will not only help your organization’s bottom-line by ensuring you have all the necessary strategies components for success, it will enable you to generate data that can be used to fuel population heath management.

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Bonnie Cassidy

About Bonnie Cassidy

This was a contributed post by Bonnie Cassidy. Bonnie serves as the 2015 Chair of the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management (CAHIIM) Board of Directors, is a Fellow of AHIMA, an AHIMA Academy ICD-10-CM/PCS Certificate Holder and ICD-10 Ambassador, and a Fellow of HIMSS. Bonnie also served as the vice president of HIM product management & innovation at QuadraMed, and served as an executive with the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT), Ernst & Young and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Bonnie was the 2011 President/Chair of AHIMA, recipient of the 2014 AHIMA Distinguished Member Triumph Award and the 2015 (Georgia) GHIMA Distinguished Member Award. Bonnie received her graduate degree from Cleveland State University and her Bachelor’s Degree in HIM from Daemen College. Bonnie grew up in Buffalo, NY, lived in Cleveland, OH and has been a resident of Atlanta, GA for 17 years. She considers the Bills, the Browns and the Falcons her hometown teams.