FALLS CHURCH – To help bring attention to the upcoming transition to the medical coding system ICD-10, Noblis Health Innovation held a panel discussion on the issue at the Noblis Innovation & Collaboration Center.
At the forum, Todd Couts, Noblis’ ICD-10 Implementation Program Manager, called the issue a potential “perfect storm” that can be avoided through planning.
The Tuesday, May 18 forum was entitled “Risk or Opportunity? Healthcare Leaders on Preparing for ICD-10” and was developed to exchange information and ideas among public and private sector stakeholders. Set for broadcast on Federal News Radio AM 1500 on Wednesday, May 26 at 11 a.m, the radio show discussed the risks and opportunities of the ICD-10 transition, and how it relates to other healthcare initiatives such as healthcare reform and HITECH
The panel’s moderator was Robert J. Clerman, Noblis’ Vice President of Corporate Mission Development. Along with Couts, the panelists were Jacqueline Gibbons, Assistant Dean Health Information Management, Northern Virginia Community College; Marcia Insley, Deputy Director, Office of Health Data and Informatics at the Veterans Health Administration ; and Sonja Racke, Provider Outreach and Education Lead for National Government Services.
Each panelist discussed how the issue would affect their segment of the industry; a common concern was the difficulty of the transition.
Gibbons said that in preparation for the switch, Northern Virginia Community College has already created new timelines and training curriculums. One of the biggest changes, Gibbons said, is the need for more anatomy training. The old ICD-9 codes required a limited amount of biology. But the new scheme requires that coders have a far better understanding of anatomy and physiology. ICD-10, however, is but one of many changes coming to healthcare. Gibbons said that these must all be addressed together, because they are all connected. “None of them work in a silo.” said Gibbons.
Even for a federal government agency such as the Department of Veterans Affairs that has information systems that were built in house, the changeover will still be substantial. The agency, for instance, has stored billions of vital signs that must be protected. In addition, within the agency’s I.T. system, over 50 different applications will need to be modified.
Racke called the challenges “monumental.” Many smaller providers, she said, still use paper claims. Even when they want to make the change, they do not have the resources. “Large groups are able to make the change because they have the cashflow,” said Racke.
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